Chicago Cubs: Key to success against the Pittsburgh Pirates

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Sep 16, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher

Jake Arrieta

(R) pitches to Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman

Aramis Ramirez

(L) during the second inning gainst at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Aces wild for the Cubs this weekend

Any time you throw Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta in a best-of-three series, you have to feel pretty good about things.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, will counter with three of their best in Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano – setting the stage for one unforgettable showdown. Who comes out on top will be contingent on each offense, but both teams have to feel good about their chances.

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Against the Pirates this season, Arrieta, who won his 20th game of the season in his last start, a three-hit shutout against the lowly Brewers, has pitched to a sterling 0.93 ERA in four outings. He’s allowed just three earned runs in 29 innings pitched, striking out 24 batters in the process.

This is nothing new for the Cubs’ right-hander, as he’s dominated opposing hitters all year-long, but he’s been especially effective against the Bucs.

Lester, meanwhile, has one complete game on the season – and it came against the Buccos. His earned run average sits just over 1.00 in a pair of outings, giving the Cubs a clear edge in the series.

The wild card (sorry for the pun, guys) – is Jason Hammel, who has been hit-or-miss all season. The right-hander has never seemed to get himself back into rhythm following a midseason hamstring injury and can’t be considered a sure-thing by any means.

Next: Predictions for the series