On the mound for the Cubs is NL Cy Young candidate Jake Arrieta who takes on Pirates' right-hander Gerrit Cole.
Arrieta finished the season (22-6) with a 1.77 ERA, a 2.35 FIP, 48 walks (1.89 BB/9) and 236 Ks (9.28 K/9) in 229 IP, over which he held opposing hitters to a .184/.236/.271 line.
Cole was (19-8) in his third major league campaign with a 2.60 ERA, a 2.66 FIP, 44 walks (1.90 BB/9) and 202 Ks (8.74 K/9), holding opposing hitters to a .235/.287/.336 line in 208 innings.
Cubs' skipper Joe Maddon was asked yesterday what was different for Arrieta this season as opposed to earlier in his career when the manager and pitcher were rivals in the AL East.
"The main difference for me is his fastball command," Maddon told reporters. "He knows where his fastball is going.
"He always had exceptional velocity and really good other pitches, but, if you just battle him enough, you'll probably get his pitch count up by the fourth or fifth inning back when he was with Baltimore.
"Now you just can't do that. He's a strike thrower. I think the true definition of a really good Major League starting pitcher is the fact he can throw a strike with his fastball when he wants to, and he's arrived at that point."
Bucs' manager Clint Hurdle was asked if he thought Cole, the top overall selection of the 2011 Draft, might be motivated to take on one of the NL's best pitchers this season who's getting a lot of attention after putting together a Cy Young-worthy campaign.
"Probably not," Hurdle said. "I don't think he cares about what other people think at all, truthfully. Hopefully he got that from me.
"The external noise that can come with this game sometimes, that's really not necessary. He needs to believe in what he needs to believe in, in execution and getting the Cubs out.
"At the end of the day, he's already matched up against some really good pitchers. This isn't the first time he's matched up against a really good pitcher. He's done it a number of times.
"It's not like he's pitching against Arrieta. He's pitching against the Cubs' lineup.
"I think that's one thing he's really grown into over the years that young pitchers can get caught up in. His first two starts were against Cy Young Award winners. I think the first three or something crazy like that.
"So that part of it, I think he's kind of way past that type of deal on who is getting street cred or who is getting media coverage or who is getting all that. I think he's just looking forward to getting the ball."
Cole will get the ball just after 8:00 PM in PNC Park...
|CHICAGO CUBS||PITTSBURGH PIRATES|
|Dexter Fowler - CF||Gregory Polanco - RF|
|Kyle Schwarber - RF||Josh Harrison - 3B|
|Kris Bryant - LF||Andrew McCutchen - CF|
|Anthony Rizzo - 1B||Starling Marte - LF|
|Tommy La Stella - 3B||Francisco Cervelli - C|
|Starlin Castro - 2B||Neil Walker - 2B|
|Miguel Montero - C||Jordy Mercer - SS|
|Addison Russell - SS||Sean Rodriguez - 1B|
|Jake Arrieta - RHP||Gerrit Cole - RHP|
Cole vs the Cubs:
|Tommy La Stella||6||6||1||1||1||.167||.167||.333||.500|
Arrieta vs the Pirates: