Starting ace Jake Arrieta has put the Chicago Cubs on his back numerous times this season. He helped the Cubs make the postseason with 15-1 record in the second half, pitched a shutout in the National League wild card playoff, and held back the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the NL Division Series.
But now the 29-year-old Cy Young candidate faces a new challenge, lifting the Cubs out of an 0-1 series hole against the New York Mets in Game 2 of the NL Championship Sunday night at Citi Field.
The Cubs are coming off a 4-2 loss in Game 1 with Jon Lester allowing each run over 6 2/3 innings, and the same Cubs bats that rocked the Cardinals for 10 home runs could only muster five hits against Matt Harvey.
Seeking his third win of the postseason, Arreita is scheduled to duel with Mets righty Noah Syndergaard, who could potentially set New York up for a 3-0 series lead with recently un-hittable Zach deGrom up next in Game 3 at Wrigley Field.
Arrieta didn’t look like his dominate self in his most recent outing. After posting a 1.77 ERA in the regular season, he allowed four runs and five hits over 5 2/3 innings in Game 3 of the NLDS but still picked up the win.
Arrieta also received significant run support which was almost nonexistent for Lester. The hot bats of outfielders Dexter Fowler and Kyle Schwarber at the top of the lineup cooled to just one hit out of eight plate appearances, though Schwarber did knock his fourth homer of the playoffs. But power hitters Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo at the No. 3 and No. 4 spots, respectively, went hitless and are now 6-for-43 in the postseason.
The Mets, meanwhile, can still rely on outfielder Curtis Granderson and second baseman Daniel Murphy. In the bottom of the first Murphy socked his fourth home run of the postseason, and Granderson drove in two more runs in the middling innings to up his team-lead to seven RBI.
Syndergaard is coming off one inning of relief work in Game 5 of the NLDS, accruing two strikeouts and a walk with no earned runs to make up for his Game 2 loss. He last faced the Cubs on May 12, surrendering three earned and six hits over 5 1/3 innings for a 6-1 loss.
Start Time: 8:07 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TBS
Live Online: TBS Online
Prediction: Mets over Cubs, 5-4