Pittsburgh Pirates v. Chicago Cubs – The Outfielders

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Oct 4, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates outfielders

Starling Marte

(6) and

Andrew McCutchen

(center) and

Gregory Polanco

(right) celebrate in the outfield after defeating the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park. The Pirates won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In preparation for the upcoming Wild Card game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs, we’ll be comparing the two teams position by position to see where the advantages lie. In our first segment, we’re taking a look at the starting outfields for both teams.

The Pirates came into the season with expectation that their outfield would be one of the best in the majors. Andrew McCutchen was coming off his third consecutive top three NL MVP finish, and Starling Marte was a rising star. Gregory Polanco would be taking back the starting right fielder position and everyone was hoping that he would make improvements over the poor start to his major league career at the very least. This trio didn’t disappoint. McCutchen followed up a rough April with a great summer, and will likely get top 10 MVP votes this season, even if he did regress slightly from his previus campaigns. Marte had a fantastic season, and possibly his best one to date, as he continues to be one of the underrated stars of the game. Polanco battled through an up and down first half of the season by rebounding in July and August, and while he did slump again in September, he showed improvements from last season.

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The Cubs promoted some of their highly-touted prospects this season who took over many starting positions as the season moved forward. Kris Bryant came up and played mostly at third base, though he may have an outside shot to start at left field in the Wild Card game if Joe Maddon wants to get creative. Chris Coghlan is the most likely option to start in left, as he’s played himself into that role this season. Kyle Schwarber was a catching prospect that has found a niche in left field this year, but he will probably play in right field, which became his role as the season progressed. Jorge Soler has played a lot of right field this season, but he may be used as a bat off the bench on Wednesday night. Dexter Fowler, who was acquired in the offseason from the Astros, is a veteran that has cemented his role as the leadoff man in this Cubs’ lineup and the starting center fielder.

There are other depth options for both teams that probably won’t start but may be used off the bench late in the game. The Pirates have the option of starting Josh Harrison in right field if they don’t feel comfortable with Polanco facing Jake Arrieta, while they will most likely have Travis Snider off the bench. The Cubs have any of the options mentioned above, as well as Austin Jackson, all of whom would be fantastic bench options.

Let’s break down the most likely starting options for each team on Wednesday night.

Next: McCutchen v. Fowler