I know it’s stressful, but the amazing ride of the Cubs 2015 season has come down to one game: winner take all, loser goes home, Cubs vs. Pirates. Cubs’ fans have to feel good that Jake Arrieta is pitching, but the Pirates counter with the equally tough Gerrit Cole. So, which team has the edge? Who has hit whom? What can the numbers tell us?
Arrieta vs. Cole
Let’s face it the game is going to come down to these two guys. This will be the first time this season that the two pitchers will be facing each other. Both pitchers saw the opposing team serveral times this season; Arrieta faced the Pirates five times Cole faced the Cubs four times. Both have also been very effective, and both are the team’s best.
Gerritt Cole has pitched well this season against everyone, and that includes the Cubs. Cole pitched 25.1 innings against Chicago this year. He carried a 2.13 ERA gave up 20 hits and struck out a whopping 32 batters. The Cubs slash line against Cole was .225/.268/.236. That may not sound impressive, but it was better than half the teams that faced him. Facing Cole is going to be tough. The Cubs will need to bring their best, but then again, so will the Pirates.
The Pirates have barely hit Arrieta at all. In 36 innings against the Pirates Arrieta carried a 0.75 ERA holding the Pirates to just 18 hits while striking out 33. Jake gave up three runs to them all season, and those runs were spread out over three different games. The Pirates hit a dismal .151/.192/.176 against Arrieta. It’s obvious that by the numbers, the Cubs have the pitching edge in this one.
The team numbers don’t look good against Arrieta this season, but how do the individual hitters stack up against him? Out of all the Pirate hitters only three of them are hitting above .200 against the Cubs CY Young candidate. Starling Marte is hitting .235 in 17 at bats, Michael Morse .333, but in only six at bats. The hitter that has handled Arrieta is none other than Andrew McCutchen. The Pirates MVP has a career average of .348 against Jake. Other than those three, the lineup has not done much: Walker .160, Alvarez, .118, Ramirez .105, Cervelli .115.
Cubs hitters have not faired too well against Gerrit Cole, however they have been better. Here’s the bad news: Coghlan .154, Baez .167, Fowler .214, Schwarber .200. The good news is much more encouraging. Three of the Cubs prime hitters this year have hit Cole well. Rizzo and Castro are both hitting .353, Bryant is hitting .333, and in limited action Montero is hitting .600 and Russell is hitting .286. Not only have the Cubs out pitched the Pirates in this match up, but they have also out hit them.
The numbers tell us that the Cubs have the advantage in this match up. The Pirates have shown no signs of hitting Arreita, and he has shown no signs of slowing down. But as we all know, this is baseball, and these are the playoffs. Balls find ways through players’ legs, home runs can come from anyone, and (in memory of Yogi Berra) “it ain’t over till it’s over!” The numbers tell us that the Cubs should win this game. Let’s hope they turn out to be true. I know I’m not ready to stop watching baseball, and I don’t think you are either.
Cubs vs. Pirates: what do the experts have to say