Big time series in Pittsburgh between the Cubs and Pirates. It isn’t the postseason yet, but we’re beginning to get that buzz and atmosphere of a postseason environment. For both of these teams, anything less than a successful run in the postseason would be disappointing. I don’t know if we expect the Cubs to go in win a World Series yet, yes it has been a 100 years since then have, but this season has been the introduction of a new era in Cubs’ baseball. They have unleashed plenty of young talent in 2015 on their roster. The only thing working to their disadvantage is experience. There isn’t a whole lot of members of this team that have much postseason experience or experience at the major league level in general. However, that lack of experience hasn’t hindered them in the regular season, posting a terrific 82-61 record. So it looks easy, but converting it to success in the postseason doesn’t always happen. Look at Clayton Kershaw for instance. He can’t get hit in the regular season, but take him into the playoffs and he looks like a different pitcher. Question being, are the Cubs going to look like a different team?
For the Pirates, the time is over for them to be happy about just making the postseason. I remember two years ago when they did make it for the first time in many years. It was a joyous occasion for the Pirates and their fans in Pittsburgh. That was a definite win itself. Those days are over, and the Pirates are expected to make the playoffs and win. They haven’t been able to do that, but are going to be in the mix again in just a few short weeks. They bumped the Cubs off path last night, beating them for a 5-4 victory. That makes it three straight losses for the Cubs after a torrid run. The Cubs get a start from Jake Arrieta tonight, who has been nothing short of amazing. If anyone can snap a small skid it’d be Arrieta.
Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Jake Arrieta (19-6, 1.99 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (8-5, 3.14 ERA)
The Philadelphia Phillies were responsible for the two other losses by the Cubs. The Phillies are not a team you don’t want to be losing a game to, never mind two. Without even looking at the odds, I imagine the Cubs were big favorites and plenty of people must have lost good change betting on them, especially in a chase scenario in the second loss. Arrieta steps in today with a mere ERA of 1.99. If we want to cut out the first two months of the season, then his ERA is around the 1.50 range. I like to look at what players are doing now, rather than look at what they were doing in April. Arrieta in his last three games has posted a 0.36 ERA and 0.55 WHIP. He gave up a single run in his last start, which snapped a four game scoreless streak. In his last ten starts he gave up more than 2 runs only once. 6-4 of his last ten outings he didn’t allow any runs.
A.J. Burnett’s career is heading in the opposite direction. He was getting absolutely drilled there before the team put him on the shelf back in July. His last three starts produced a 9.00 ERA with a 1.87 WHIP in his last three starts. Since coming back in July he’s only had one start, allowing 3 runs against Brewers. He only lasted 5 innings, as the Pirates slowly work him back into the rotation. They don’t want to kill his arm before the postseason. I don’t foresee them letting him go for a long period of time in his second start back either. To beat Arrieta you need a hot arm that can go pitch-for-pitch with him. I think the price should be more expensive towards the Cubs. Taking Arrieta has been one of the safest bets in sports. I will take the Cubs in what I see is good value.
PICK: CUBS TO WIN -140