Cubs: How the Cardinals will try to beat Jake Arrieta


Cubs: How the Cardinals will try to beat Jake Arrieta

Can anybody beat Jake Arrieta right now?

The Cubs feel borderline invincible with their ace on the mound.

Arrieta is clearly the best pitcher in the universe right now, but the St. Louis Cardinals believe they can get to him and take momentum back in the National League Division Series.

[RELATED - Cubs put the pressure back on Cardinals with Jake Arrieta up next]

For the Cardinals, it starts with just ensuring they keep the same gameplan.

"We understand there's a pitcher on their side that's been throwing the ball very well," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said before his team's workout at Wrigley Field Sunday. "We need to just come out and do what we do."

The Cardinals have done this before. They know what it's like to take down the game's best pitcher in the postseason after beating Clayton Kershaw four times in four games the last two Octobers.

Kershaw — the ace of the Los Angeles Dodgers — sported a ridiculous 1.80 ERA and 0.889 WHIP to go with a 37-12 record in the regular season between 2013-14. But once he got to the playoffs, the Cardinals touched him up for 18 earned runs in 22.2 innings (a 7.15 ERA).

"I think there's something to be said about that," Matheny said. "We've gone up against a number of teams and a number of pitchers where everybody kind of ruled us out and said 'you can't do this or that.'

"And I think this team has responded well in the past. Yeah, it's something to have kind of in the archives, but that doesn't necessarily automatically turn into any kind of production.

"I think, more so than anything else, it keeps our club from being overwhelmed by maybe all the noise that comes along with a matchup like this."

Arrieta shut down the Pirates Wednesday, hurling a complete-game shutout at a team that won 98 games and was playing on their home field.

But the Cubs ace has also seen Kershaw's postseason struggles the last couple seasons against this Cardinals team and how they've exploited mistakes.

[MORE - Jake Arrieta emerges as October star and gets locked in for Cubs-Cardinals]

Mistakes are exactly what the Cardinals are looking for when they face Arrieta in Game 3 Monday evening at Wrigley Field.

"[We approach this] like you have to do against anybody — get him in the zone and try to hit the mistakes," Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward said. "Take what they give you."

Arrieta has had some issues this season fielding his position and throwing to first base, committing four errors on the year. He's also allowed 27 stolen bases this season, the fourth-highest total in the big leagues.

We saw how important a pitcher's defense is in Game 2, as the Cubs racked up five unearned runs off Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia when the left-hander had troubles fielding a bunt.

The Cubs know Arrieta can't pitch at this historic level forever.

They refuse to get complacent, especially with so much on the line right now, returning home to host the first playoff game at Wrigley Field in seven years.

[SHOP: Buy Cubs playoff gear]

"Honestly, I'm so not that guy to just expect that it's going to keep happening," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm always pretty much the same at the beginning of the game and then you watch him and he'll pretty much show you everything is OK. And then he'll just keep showing you it's OK for nine innings and you just keep watching and watching.

"I don't take anything for granted. I don't think any of us do. I hope not. The team we're playing tomorrow is very good. So you can't assume anything. You don't take anything for granted.

"... You know, I know the work [Arrieta has] done. I know he's ready for the day [Monday]. Of course you're wanting good to happen, but regardless, you know that Jake is prepared."

Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of


Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of

The Cubs have been a different team the last six weeks, looking a lot more like the resilient bunch from 2016 than the sluggish 2017 squad that lacked energy. After some wacky circumstances Monday and a tough loss in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Cubs came out and showed what they’re made of in the last two games of the series against the Dodgers, a team that knocked them out of postseason play last fall.

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki sum up the longest short homestand (or shortest long homestand?), updating the status of Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, the Cubs pitching staff and how the team is rounding into form as the season’s halfway mark approaches.

Check out the entire podcast here:

Brandon Morrow lands on DL after hurting back while taking his pants off

Brandon Morrow lands on DL after hurting back while taking his pants off

Remember that one time Sammy Sosa threw out his back while sneezing? Well, Brandon Morrow may have topped that on the Cubs all-time list of wacky injuries.

The 33-year-old closer was placed on the 10-day disabled list prior to Wednesday's game after hurting his back while taking his pants off upon returning from the team's road trip to St. Louis. It's being labeled as "lower back tightness."

"It's frustrating any time you can't get out there, and especially when you can't go because of something stupid like taking your pants off," Morrow told reporters on Tuesday.

And that's put the Cubs pitching staff in a tough spot for the rest of the week, given Wednesday's series finale against the Dodgers is the third game in a little more than 24 hours for the Cubs.

"I don't want to downplay anything," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "Obviously he had back spams, he had the same thing in spring training. We'll start treating it the same way we did in spring training; I think he was out about a week to 10 days. If things go as we hope, I think it'd be the kind of thing where he'd probably be able to be throwing before the 10 days is up.

"But we felt like it wasn't going to be something where he was ready this weekend and if he's not going to be ready all weekend, we can already backdate it three days so it made sense to put him on the DL."

Morrow is tied for fifth in the National League with 16 saves and owns a 1.59 ERA is 26 relief appearances this season. Justin Hancock, who served as the 26th man during Tuesday's doubleheader, stayed with the team as a result.