Sunday’s four-game slate—our last of the 2017 Postseason—will feel like an embarrassment of riches after we get just one game each day until the rest of the matchups play out.
Still, there will be no shortage of drama as we have wall-to-wall elimination games for as many as three straight days. That will certainly bring ample intrigue. Check ’em out!
RHP Tanner Roark (WAS) versus RHP Jake Arrieta (CHC) — 5:38 p.m. ET, TBS
It certainly isn’t ideal that the Nationals are facing elimination against the Cubs with Roark on the mound. That isn’t to say Roark isn’t a fine pitcher—in some ways, he’s Washington’s answer to Kyle Hendricks—but he certainly isn’t in the class of a Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer or Gio Gonzalez.
But as this series has turned at the drop of a hat—from Bryce Harper’s Game 2 home run to Anthony Rizzo’s bloop single on Monday—anything remains a possibility as these two righties take the mound on the north side of Chicago Tuesday evening. Roark did not have a pretty season, posting a 4.67 ERA (4.13 FIP) that was nearly two runs worse than last season’s mark (2.83).
Not a ton is different this year from last year (3.79 FIP). He really is allowing a few more homers, has a more normalized BABIP and saw his strand rate plummet more than 13 percent. Each of those will easily add 30 points to a FIP, if not two runs to an ERA.
As has been the case in the postseason, the bullpens may decide this one. Arrieta was fine this season, but certainly not the Arrieta of yore. And, he’s dealing with a strained hamstring that has bothered him for a few weeks and relegated (?) him to making a Game 4 start when he’s typically Game 1 or 2 material.
Then again, Max Scherzer shoved on Monday before his bullpen gave it up—and we say that in the nicest way possible—so who knows how Arrieta will be affected by this issue? Arrieta’s home run rate soared this year while his strikeout rate remained under 9.0 per nine for the second year in a row. Plus he saw jumps in WHIP and his per nine for the second year in a row. It may also be his final start with the Cubs, as he’s slated for free agency this offseason.
There is no shortage of storylines in this one.