The Cubs have staved off elimination once, and need to do so yet again to force a winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday night. In their way is a righty who has overcome adversity to finish strong, while their righty had a rough second half but has been fairly good this postseason. Check ’em out!
Jake Arrieta (CHC) versus Josh Tomlin (CLE)
8:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Arrieta took down the Indians in Cleveland in Game 2, as he teamed up with Mike Montgomery and Aroldis Chapman to out-duel Trevor Bauer and six other Indians hurlers to even the series at a game apiece. Now he’ll be tasked with doing the same at three games apiece, and he’ll need to be better this time around than he was in the Dodgers series, where he got roughed up a bit to the tune of a pair of home runs and four earned runs over five innings. For the postseason, Arrieta has an uncharacteristic 3.78 ERA in 16.2 innings, with 16 strikeouts, four walks and a BAA of .222. There’s been considerable talk about what has plagued him this season, as his ERA and walk rate have surged, his strikeout rate has dropped and apparently he’s thrown fewer cutters/sliders because they haven’t been very consistent. No matter what the issue has been, the Cubs (obviously) need him to bring the money tonight. The drop-off for Arrieta on the road this season (3.59 ERA, 6.9 K/9) as opposed to at home (2.62, 10.4) has been sizable, for what it’s worth.
Tomlin’s remarkable story continued in Game 3 as he—for the most part—out-dueled Kyle Hendricks in the eventual 1-0 win. Neither pitcher completed five innings, but Tomlin went just a bit longer (4.2 frames as opposed to 4.1) and didn’t allow a run as he pitched in front of his dad for the first time since a mysterious spinal cord issue paralyzed him from the waist down. Tomlin has been incredible since a rough August—the month his father was stricken—and it appears it’s due to a resurgence with his curveball. No matter what it is, a pitcher who has been absolutely bamboozled by the long ball this season (1.9 per nine) has managed to allow none so far through three postseason starts spanning 15.1 innings. That’s no joke, considering he’s stymied the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Cubs once apiece—some of the best lineups in baseball. He’s going to have to get by with some help from his friends, of course, but if Tomlin can give the Indians four or five innings of say, one-run ball, there’s a good chance there won’t need to be a Game 7.