After an unexpected day off, the Chicago Cubs will try to wrap up the National League Division Series when they host the Washington Nationals for Game 4 on Wednesday. The potential clincher was pushed back a day due to rain in Chicago on Tuesday, but the scheduled pitching matchup will remain the same with Chicago’s Jake Arrieta squaring off against Tanner Roark.
The extra day could benefit Arrieta, who was slotted fourth in the Cubs’ postseason rotation to allow him more time to rest his tender hamstring before making his first start since Sept. 26. Arrieta, who said his nagging right hamstring injury is a “non-issue,” hopes to follow the rest of Chicago’s starting rotation, which has allowed two runs - one earned - in 18 2/3 innings over the first three games of the series. The day off also gave the Nationals the option of skipping Roark and pitching Game 1 starter Stephen Strasburg on regular rest, but manager Dusty Baker said Strasburg was “under the weather” and would not have been able to follow his routine of throwing a bullpen session two days before his start if called upon Wednesday. “I just think the atmosphere around here is amazing,” Roark, who grew up about an hour’s drive from Wrigley Field, told reporters. “To pitch here at Wrigley, and to hear the fans, I know they are going to be crazy. I’ll just do what I do best and try to keep them quiet.”
TV: 4 p.m. ET, TBS
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Tanner Roark (13-11, 4.67 ERA) vs. Cubs RH Jake Arrieta (14-10, 3.53)
Roark made two relief appearances in the 2014 NLDS and his first postseason start in last year’s NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing two runs and seven hits over 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision. The 31-year-old had a solid second half but finished the regular season on a sour note, losing his last two turns before giving up two runs in one frame of relief on Oct. 1. Roark is 4-2 with a 4.06 ERA in seven career games (six starts) against the Cubs.
Arrieta is 4-2 with a 3.64 ERA in seven starts over the last two postseasons, including a pair of wins in last year’s World Series. The 31-year-old has been outstanding at home throughout his tenure with the Cubs, going 30-14 with a 2.31 ERA in 59 outings. He hasn’t fared as well against the Nationals, however, as he’s 1-2 with a 5.48 ERA in nine meetings.
1. Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo has hit safely in nine straight postseason games, going 13-for-33 during the streak.
2. Washington 1B Ryan Zimmerman has driven in four of the Nationals’ seven runs in the series.
3. Cubs RHP Wade Davis improved to 6-for-6 in career postseason save opportunities on Monday and has posted a 0.79 ERA in 25 playoff games.
PREDICTION: Cubs 4, Nationals 3