Congratulations are in order for the Cubs, who rode yet another dominant Jake Arrieta performance to a 4-0 win over the Pirates to advance to the NLDS, where they’ll face another division-rival — the Cardinals. As Cubs fans celebrate and Bucs fans mourn, here’s a look at some notes on each of the two teams…
- Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review took a look at how the Pirates constructed their latest winner, noting the huge amounts of surplus value they got for relatively low-cost acquisitions such as Francisco Cervelli, A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Jung Ho Kang, J.A. Happ, Joakim Soria and Joe Blanton. Perhaps most interesting is Sawchik’s description of how Liriano came to re-sign with Pittsburgh. Awakened by a 3:30am phone call from agent Greg Genske, Liriano learned that the Pirates had upped their offer to $39MM over three years. Genske advised his client to wait, as the Royals and Astros had both made three-year offers as well, and both the Cubs and Red Sox were showing interest, too. Liriano, however, declined. “I said, ’No. Go ahead and take it,'” Liriano recalled. “I told my agent talk to the Pirates as much as you can, because I wanted to be back.”
- In an effort to explain Arrieta’s emergence as one of the National League’s premier arms, Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris examines a notable change in his pitch profile from 2014 to 2015. As Sarris points out, Arrieta has flipped the usage of his two-seamer and four-seamer and now greatly favors the former over the latter. Beyond that, Arrieta’s shown a willingness to throw his two-seamer/sinker in the zone to lefties and righties alike, and he’ll use the pitch to challenge hitters as well as front-door/back-door them for called strikes and weak contact. The result has been one of the game’s most effective pitches and Arrieta’s emergence into the national limelight and NL Cy Young race.
- David Ross hit just .176/.267/.252 for the Cubs this season, but ESPN’s Wayne Drehs spoke to Ross, his teammates and the coaching staff about the value that Ross brings in the clubhouse and the difference he’s made in dealing with rookies, young stars like Anthony Rizzo and veterans like Jon Lester. Every teammate of Ross spoke glowingly about his emphasis on accountability and his relentless quest to make sure that there’s not a day when anyone on the team is giving any less than 100 percent on the field. Manager Joe Maddon called Ross the best clubhouse presence he’s ever seen, and Rizzo tried to characterize the impact of Ross’ leadership. “It’s one of those things … [Ross] doesn’t demand respect — he earns it,” Rizzo explained. “He lets you know in a nice way, and he’ll get on you in a rough way if he needs to. I tell him all the time I just want to go out and prove to him I can bring it everyday.”