Which pitchers could the Pittsburgh Pirates face in a Wild Card game?

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Aug 4, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Arrieta – Chicago Cubs

One of the quiet aces in all of baseball over the past two seasons has been Jake Arrieta. After being acquired in a trade from the Baltimore Orioles in the middle of the 2013 season, Arieta went from bouncing between Triple-A and the majors to headlining a rotation that also happens to feature postseason star Jon Lester. This season, Arieta leads all Cubs’ starters in ERA (2.50) and strikeouts (152), and will most likely be the Cubs’ option if they made the Wild Card contest. Lester does have 84 innings of dynamic postseason experience, but Arieta has been filthy this season. If Joe Maddon values talent over experience, Arieta should have the edge.

Arieta doesn’t have any postseason experience. Then again, the Cubs don’t either, at least not in a while. But neither did many of the Kansas City Royals’ players last year. Personally, I think experience is often overrated. Talent should almost always trump experience, and Arrieta should be Maddon’s choice in a Wild Card matchup. But if the race for that second spot comes down to the final game of the season, Maddon might be forced to use Arrieta before that in a final regular season game, or in one of the last few games, so he might not even pitch in the Wild Card contest. The Cubs are lucky enough to also have Jon Lester, though, so that’s in their benefit.

We saw how Arrieta stifled the Pirate batters his last time out, tossing seven innings of two-hit, no-run ball. In three contests against Pittsburgh this season, Arrieta has a 0.86 ERA in 21 innings, averaging seven innings per start. Yeah, Pirate fans should be nervous about facing him.

Next: Madison Bumgarner