Chicago Cubs, Lester look to gain ground on Pirates at Wrigley


Cubs and Bucs face off in critical three-game set at Wrigley Field

Could this game be a preview of the NL Wild Card game? For the Pittsburgh Pirates, Gerrit Cole (17-8, 2.64) seems like a shoe-in for the start. The Chicago Cubs have the potential to choose between Jon Lester (10-11, 3.46) and Jake Arrieta. While Arrieta is the favorite, Lester hasn’t hurt his case in recent weeks. Lester beat the Pirates on Sept. 15 by throwing a one-run complete game–his only CG of the season.

The Cubs (89-63) trail the Pirates (93-60) by 3 1/2 games for the top Wild Card spot. The Bucs have already clinched a playoff berth, now it’s just a matter of which one. The Cubs have an opportunity to drastically change the playoff landscape with this series.

Cole has had success against the Cubs, especially at Wrigley. He’s 6-1 overall with a 4-1 record against them at the Friendly Confines. Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo have both hit Cole well with a combined .367 with five RBI’s.

Dan Haren was originally scheduled for the Cubs but is being skipped this time through the rotation. with such a critical match-up, Haren will have to sit and watch as he’s posted just one quality start since coming to Chicago.

Lester comes off an outing in which he struggled early but recovered to give the Cubs a chance late. He allowed four runs over six innings but allowed most of the damage early against the Cardinals.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field. MLB Network and ABC 7 will have the television coverage while WBBM 780 will have the radio broadcast.

Here are the starting lineup for today’s series opener: