NL wild-game game players to watch
Josh Harrison, 2B/3B/OF
Clint Hurdle did not reveal his starting lineup for the wild-card game, but he indicated Josh Harrison will start. “He's got the highest OPS against right-handed pitching in the past two weeks, almost a month, Hurdle said.” Overall, Harrison has a .819 OPS since Sept. 1. Now, where would the versatile Harrison start?
FRANCISCO CERVELLI, C
For as much of a beating as Cervelli has taken this season, he is batting .392 in the eighth inning and .415 in the ninth inning. He is batting .298 after the seventh inning in games where the score is within a run. If the Pirates need a big hit late, Cervelli could be the man.
ANDREW McCUTCHEN, CF
McCutchen is the only Pirate with an above-average OPS against Jake Arrieta (.876). No other Pirates players has a OPS better than .513 (Starling Marte). In 176 career at-bats against Arrieta, the Pirates have a .422 OPS. But McCutchen is coming of his second worst month of the season (.734 OPS in September) and he had his highest walk rate, 19 percent, since Sept. 1 as teams have pitched around him. Will Arrieta be careful with McCutchen?
PEDRO ALVAREZ, 1B
Hurdle did not indicate whether Alvarez will be in the lineup. He's the club's top power bat but also its worst defender. Hurdle said he might prefer contact over power because Arrieta allowed only two home runs
MIGUEL MONTERO, C
Likely to start behind the dish for Jake Arrieta, Montero provides the Cubs a better offensive threat but weaker defense against baserunners than cohort David Ross. Montero's caught-stealing rate, 20 percent, is 8 behind the league average and 6 lower than Ross' rate. Montero has allowed 71 steals. Montero has three hits in five at-bats against Gerrit Cole.
ANTHONY RIZZO, 1B
The cleanup man in the batting order since late July, Rizzo's .899 on-base plus slugging percentage led the Cubs, and his 101 RBI also ranked first. No player in the National League participated in more games (160) and made more plate appearances (701). Rizzo has a .862 career OPS against Cole.
KRIS BRYANT, 3B/OF
Bryant, the frontrunner to win the National League's Rookie of the Year award, is 3 for 9 with two walks and six strikeouts against Cole this season. Though he has made 136 of his 147 starts at third base, there's a chance he'll spend time in the outfield, as he did four other times this year in Pittsburgh. “Right field is a little different (to defend) just because of the chain-link fence,” Bryant said. “There's not the traditional padded wall, so I think when a ball hits off that, it's not going to ricochet as much.”
JORGE SOLER, OF
Still classified as a rookie after appearing in just 24 games in 2014, the touted Cuban prospect missed almost a month from late August to mid-September this year with a strained left oblique muscle. He went 5 for 23 with three homers and three walks after returning from the disabled list Sept. 17.