Pittsburgh Pirates v. Chicago Cubs: The Starting Pitchers

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September 20, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) pitches in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs will send their respective aces to the mound tonight in the National League Wild Card Game.

Maybe you’ve heard.

Yes, Gerrit Cole and Jake Arrieta will grab the marquee tonight in what is sure to be an exciting game. You may have seen our comparisons between the two teams on these pages over the past two days. It’s incredibly easy to compare position players. We can compare Player X to Player Y in so many different statistical categories. We can then view the units (outfielders, infielders, etc) and come up with a decent comparison.

With pitchers, it’s an entirely different story. Sure,  we can follow the same game plan. We can compare their ERAs, FIP, WHIP, etc etc, but with the inherent fluidity of a pitcher, this can prove futile when trying to frame the conversation in a one-game scenario. If a pitcher’s go-to pitch isn’t working on a particular night and he is forced to go to secondary stuff, that can throw off any standardization in our comparisons.

So how can we compare Arrieta and Cole? In a one-game scenario in which every pitch is magnified, I am going to attempt to use a baseline of criteria that I feel will impact the game the most.

Let’s get started by looking at how Cole and Arrieta change their approach on pitch counts.

Next: Count em up