The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates were two of the three best teams in MLB during the regular season, and they’ve been rewarded by having to play an elimination game for the right to face baseball’s best team in the National League Division Series. Chicago visits Pittsburgh on Wednesday night in the 2015 National League Wild Card Game.
The winner of Wednesday’s contest goes on to face the St. Louis Cardinals, who led the league with 100 regular-season wins. Pittsburgh has the better record and they are 25 games above .500 at home, but the advantage at starting pitcher has made Chicago the favorites.
It’s the Pirates' third straight season playing in the wild card game. They beat the Cincinnati Reds in 2013, but were shut out by the San Francisco Giants in last year’s contest. The Cubs last made the playoffs in 2008, and they haven’t won a postseason game since 2003.
The Cubs will play with 10 pitchers on the roster, including Jon Lester. The Cubs’ potential Game 1 starter in the NLDS will be in uniform, in case Chicago needs a pitcher to be used in long relief. Lester made his last start exactly one week ago, allowing one earned run in eight innings of work.
Chicago is more than prepared, in case Jake Arrieta needs to be pulled early or the game goes into extra innings. Starter Kyle Hendricks is also on the roster, having last pitched four days ago. But the chances of Arrieta not giving the Cubs much length are slim, considering he hasn’t gone less than six innings in nearly four months. The Cy Young candidate hasn’t allowed a run in his last three starts.
Just as Lester will give the Cubs insurance, Francisco Liriano will do the same for Pittsburgh. The team’s No.2 starter went 12-7 with a 3.38 ERA in the regular season, and he’s one of nine pitchers on the Pirates’ wild-card roster. Starting Pitcher Gerrit Cole last had a short outing on Sept. 1 when he went just four innings in a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Rookie outfielder Keon Broxton is also on the roster, even though the September call-up didn’t play in his first game until 16 days ago. Broxton is still without a hit in the big leagues, but he could be used as a pinch-runner. The 25-year-old has stolen a base and scored three runs in his short time in MLB.
First pitch for Chicago vs. Pittsburgh is set for 8:08 p.m. ET on TBS. Viewers can watch a free live stream online at TBScom.
Data Curated by pointafter.com and sourced from Sportradar