The Chicago Cubs arrived in Pittsburgh ahead of their wild card game against the Pirates on Wednesday night, and starting pitcher Jake Arrieta is excited for the opportunity to start for the Cubs in their first postseason game since 2008.
“It’s a nervous excitement. It’s not anxiety,” he said. “This is why I’ve prepared as hard and as rigorous as I have for the past however many years for this game. This is one of the moments that you think about when you’re training in the offseason. You think about pitching in games like this. ... It’s been a long time coming to this moment. I’ve been waiting for it for a number of years, and I’m ready.”
Arrieta is one of the frontrunners for the Cy Young Award in the National League, and he’s been positively deadly down the stretch for the Cubs. Overall on the season he ended up with a 22-6 record and a 1.77 ERA, and he has been setting records for his pitching since the All-Star Game in July.
When he steps onto the mound in Pittsburgh, he will be battling the Pirates in a hostile environment, but Arrieta isn’t worried about crowd noise impacting his game.
“I thrive off that regardless of whether it’s home crowd or opposing crowd,” he said. “If you allow the noise to affect you mentally and allow it to take away from your stuff and your ability to execute pitches, then it’s going to be negative.”
Arrieta is confident in his ability to win the game on Wednesday, and manager Joe Maddon echoed those sentiments in his press conference Tuesday.
“What a really good Major League starting pitcher can do is throw a strike when he wants to, and Jake does that,” Maddon said. “He’s a strike-thrower.”
Even though Arrieta has never pitched in a postseason game, he knows what it takes to win on baseball’s biggest stage.
“It’s going to come down to who makes the fewest amount of mistakes both on the mound, on the field, (and) on the bases, because we obviously know that two of the best three teams in baseball are playing for a do or die game tomorrow,” he said.