Unless you live under a rock or don’t have that annoying “Twitter Moments” tab, you probably know that the Houston Astros embarrassed the Yankees in the AL Wild Card face off last night. The Astros will now go on to face the Royals on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium for game 1 of the ALDS. The game starts at 6:30 and your very own SprotsTakes crew will be broadcasting the game on RabbleTV here.

Tonight, the wild-card action continues with the two NL teams, the Pirates and the Cubs, going head to head at 7. #This wild-card game promises to be infinitely more interesting than yesterday’s because both teams are a) very good, b) very hungry to get in the NLDS, c) dominant across many categories of play. Just like yesterday, let’s take a look at the two combatants that match up tonight in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates finished the season 98-64–better than ALL of the AL playoff contenders, yet they are stuck fighting to even get a chance to go to The Show.

4 Things You Need To Know:

This is the THIRD time that the Pirates have hosted the NL Wild Card game. It’s not easy being in a division with the Cardinals, who never ever go away. The Pirates have yet to make it to the World Series round of play in those three attempts.

The Pirates bullpen is all around great with Joaquim Soria and Antonio Bastardo, but their pitching tandem of Tony Watson and Mark Melancon (meh-LAN-sen) leads the National League. They are the new Wade Davis and Greg Holland.

The Pirates have a LOT of home wins in PNC Park, so their home field advantage is very…advantageous. Coupled with all of their wild-card game experience from the last three years, the Pirates are poised to be a force to be reckoned with.

Gerrit (Gare-it) Cole is the starting pitcher for Pittsburgh. In his history facing the Cubs, he has won 7 of 9 of their meetings. He’s also posted a low 2 ERA against them all season, giving his team a healthy chance at riding into the sunset with another Wild Card win.

Key Faces:

Andrew McCutchen

Gerrit Cole

Starling Marte

Neil Walker

Mark Melancon


4 Things You Need To Know:

The Cubs haven’t been in the playoffs in 7 years and certainly weren’t expected to make it this year. This was supposed to be their set up year like the 2013 Royals. The young guns on the Cubs say “F&%$ it, we’re gonna win the whole thing”. They, too, finished the season with a better record than all of the AL contenders at 97-65.

Jake Arrieta will be pitching for the Cubs. If you read the Sprots Gloss on ERA, you would know that Arrieta is a terrifying, terrifying man that boasts the second lowest ERA in ALL of baseball at 1.77. Arrieta has dominated the Pirates all year and is equally good when home or away. He’s a beast.

The Cubs didn’t come sprinting out of the gates to start the season, but since the All-Star Break, the Cubs are second in home runs, RBI, and OBP (on base percentage). The Cubs influx of young players throughout the year has really woke up those Chi-Town bats.

Speaking of young players, the Cubs have 4 dominant rookies in their lineup-Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and Jorge Soler. Former super prospect, Kris Bryant, who finished the season with 99 RBI…the same amount NL MVP candidate, Bryce Harper, ended with.  Stud. Schwarber already has about a million home runs and he just came up a few months ago! Masher.

Speaking of Bryant and Harper…I stumbled upon this gem. Hot damn.

Key Faces:

Kris Bryant

Addison Russell

Kyle Schwarber


Anthony Rizzo

Jake Arrieta

If this will be your first National League game, you’re in for a treat! In the NL, the pitchers get to bat! This is one of the most heated arguments in baseball today: should the pitchers be allowed to bat? I’m 100% for it because it’s entertaining as hell and gives your pitcher a (hopefully) easy strikeout when the opposing pitcher steps up to the plate. Plus, I think that’s the way baseball is meant to be played. Opponents whine that pitcher could get hurt, well so could every other player on the team! If all pitchers were raised knowing they would be batting, wouldn’t they then be more prepared to take hacks and not get injured? I say yes. Megan for President 2016.

Anywho, aside from the pure joy watching pitchers bat brings me, the NL rules also mean that you can expect a lot of strategic subbing and positioning of players late in the game. Why? When you get into the later innings in baseball, you will be using your bullpen guys who only pitch one inning, so there is no point in letting them bat when you’ve got a masher waiting on the bench that can be expended.

Sit back and enjoy the last Wild Card Game tonight in beautiful PNC Park. Final prediction: Cubs win, 3-1. Tomorrow the real fun begins!

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