Don't be surprised if Jake Arrieta comes out throwing a knuckleball Sunday.
Arrieta's start against the Pirates comes 10 days before he figures to square off with this team again in the one-game wild-card playoff.
So the Cubs ace was joking he might try to mix things up with a knuckleball or a new changeup or wacky sequence of pitches or something.
"It's a chess match, really," Arrieta said. "They've seen what I throw. They know what I throw. But the sequences are things that I constantly change and switch up."
Arrieta probably won't actually throw a knuckleball, but with the Cubs locking up a playoff spot and sitting 5.5 games behind the Pirates for homefield advantage in the wild-card game, Sunday's matchup doesn't exactly jump off the page in terms of importance.
The Cubs are on pace for around 95 wins, but their season will still come down to a winner-take-all game (probably in Pittsburgh).
That's just fine by Arrieta and his 1.88 ERA.
"A lot of hard work's paid off as a team to be in this situation," he said. "Not many teams get to move on and play into October.
"And even though it's a one-game, do-or-die type of scenario, it's what we have to deal with. So we'll deal with that. We'll prepare for that situation and be ready for it when it comes."
The Cubs are 23-8 (a .742 winning percentage) when Arrieta starts as he's made a serious case for the NL Cy Young Award.
He reveled in the Cubs' postseason celebration on Wrigley Field Saturday afternoon, responding to fans' "Arrieta! Arrieta!" chants by spraying champagne into the crowd gathered behind the home dugout.
Arrieta and his major-league leading 20 victories are a major reason why the Cubs could celebrate a playoff berth with more than a week left in the regular season.
But he's also blown past his career high in innings in a season and he's still penciled in for two starts before the wild-card game.
Arrieta is in fantastic shape and his conditioning is off the charts, but he still understands the need to take it easy. He acknowledged his pitch count probably won't climb much over 100 Sunday night.
"No reason to change anything now," Arrieta said. "At this point in the season, I'll take a day or two off throwing throughout the week and honing some things and continuing to work on flexibility. I'll have a good side session and kind of shut it down at that point.
"Just be ready for start day, knowing that this time of year is to save some bullets and be out there helping."
Arrieta has emerged as one of the top pitchers in the game, thanks in large part to an incredible work ethic and a desire to never get complacent and always be searching for ways to improve.
He's taking that same mindset into the Cubs clinching a playoff berth.
"Obviously we're not popping bottles or losing our minds," Arrieta said before Saturday's game. "We know we're in now. We still have some business to take care of.
"We'd like to finish the regular season with our guys healthy, everybody's legs under them, everybody feeling good about October baseball and we'll go from there."