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  • 11 April 2019
    The Chicago Cubs will host the
    Colorado Rockies in the National League Wild Card Game at Wrigley Field on
    Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN will televise the
    contest Jay Bruce
    , with Baseball Tonight beginning at 7 p.m.This matchup will be a
    battle of southpawsbetween the Cubs' Jon Lester and the Rockies' Kyle Freeland,
    per Kyle Newman of theDenver Post. Lester is 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA and 149
    strikeouts in 181.2 innings, while Freeland is 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA and 173
    strikeouts in 202.1 innings.Lester has induced an inordinate amount of soft
    contact throughout his career, and this year is no exception: Per FanGraphs,
    hishard-hit rate is just 31.9 percent. He gives up just1.19 home runs per nine
    innings.The crafty 34-year-old has five pitches in his repertoire: a four-seam
    fastball, cutter, sinker, changeupand curveball.Freeland is an extreme
    ground-ball pitcher who induces them at a 46.0 percent rate, per FanGraphs. Like
    Lester, he doesn't get hit too hard (31.6 percent) or give up many home runs
    (0.76 per nine innings).The 25-year-old strikes out batters at a 20.5 percent
    clip. He throws a four-seam fastball, cutter, sinker, changeup and slider. Of
    note, he would be pitching on three days' rest, as Freeland started (and won) on
    Friday against the Washington Nationals after six innings of two-run ball.
    Lester has an extra day of rest, having made his last appearance Thursday (six
    scoreless innings versus the Pittsburgh Pirates).The two men faced off at
    Wrigley once this season, with the Cubs winning 3-2. Lester went 5.2 innings
    with two runs (neither earned), five punchouts and three walks, while Freeland
    tossed seven frames of three-run ball with five strikeouts.It could have been
    worse for both sides. Lester struck out Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta with the
    bases loaded in the fifth to wiggle out of a
    jam ,
    and Freeland limited the damage to one run in the sixth after a leadoff triple
    from Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant.The lineups will be a little different this
    time around. Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu (15 home runs, 62 RBI, .278
    batting average in 127 games) did not play, nor did Colorado outfielder David
    Dahl (16 home runs, 48 RBI, .276 batting average in 76 games).For the Cubs,
    second baseman Daniel Murphy (six home runs, 13 RBI, .299 batting average in 34
    games with Chicago) was still a member of the Washington Nationals at the
    time.Freeland arguably had a better year than Lester, but the latter has started
    21 postseason games and been part of three World Series champions. He also more
    than held his own en route to an All-Star season. The starting pitching matchup
    looks like a slight edge toward the Cubs simply because Lester has an extra day
    of rest.The Cubs would seem to have four other advantages, though.First, they
    are home, where they've gone 51-31 this season. Chicago has the added benefit of
    staying put, as the Cubs have been in town since starting a regular-season
    closing homestand on Tuesday.Meanwhile, the Rockies are going to be in three
    time zones in three days as they go from Denver to Los Angeles to Chicago.
    Colorado closed the regular season with a win over the Washington Nationals on
    Sunday before losing in the NL West tiebreaker Monday. Now it has to turn around
    in 24 hours and play a game in Chicago Tuesday.Colorado is respectable on the
    road (44-38) but that travel schedule may be tough to overcome.Second, as Newman
    noted, the Cubs will call on left-hander Cole Hamels if needed. The veteran has
    been fantastic for Chicago this year, going 4-3 with a 2.36 ERA and 74
    strikeouts in 76.1 innings. That's a big trump card in favor of the Cubs.Third,
    the Cubs bullpen has performed far better than the Rockies' this
    year David
    Wright Jersey
    , with Chicago's relievers sporting a 3.34 ERA (second-best
    in MLB) and the Rockies finishing with a 4.63 (26th).Lastly, Chicago simply has
    more postseason experience, having made the NLCS in 2015 and 2017 and winning
    the World Series in 2016. Granted, not every member of the team has been with
    the Cubs through that entire stretch, but some newer members of the team have
    played in October (Murphy for the Mets and Washington Nationals, for
    instance).Colorado played in the NL Wild Card Game last year (losing 11-8 to the
    Arizona Diamondbacks) after missing the postseason every year since 2010.The
    infamous Wrigley Field wind, which can blow home runs out at a record pace or
    keep towering fly balls in the outfield based on the direction, shouldn't be a
    factor Tuesday. Per Windfinder, the wind should be blowing anywhere from a
    harmless three to six mph, with game temperatures at around 59
    degrees.Ultimately, this looks like a Cubs victory, but look for Freeland to
    keep Chicago at bay into the middle innings. Expect Chicago to pull away late in
    a low-scoring win.Prediction: Cubs 5, Rockies 2 BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Adam
    Frazier is getting to be a regular starter this year as the Pittsburgh Pirates‘
    second baseman.Frazier spent the first three seasons of his career as a utility
    player, making 95 starts at second, 61 in left, 20 in right, five in center,
    three at third base and one at shortstop.“I think it helps anybody coming to the
    yard every day and knowing where you’re going to
    be ,”
    Frazier said. “My goal is to play as good as I can and be ready each and every
    day, give the team all I’ve got and win games.”He takes over at second from
    two-time All-Star Josh Harrison, who left as a free agent. Frazier is expected
    to hit leadoff for the Pirates, who were 19th among the 30 teams in runs last
    season with a 4.3 average.Frazier has a .280 career average with 18 home runs in
    300 games.“I’d like to see us keep his legs underneath him, keep him strong,
    keep him fresh because we can use the offense, especially at the top of the
    order, where he has had most of his major league at-bats,” Pittsburgh manager
    Clint Hurdle said.Frazier had a .237 batting average and three homers in 55
    games for the Pirates last year when he demoted to Triple-A Indianapolis last
    June. He returned to Pittsburgh six week later and hit .306 with seven homers in
    57 games.“I worked on a few things, being more aggressive with my hands and my
    feet, so when I came back up, I felt pretty good,” Frazier said. “I just
    continued to work, and things fell into place.”Frazier certainly made an
    impression on Hurdle.“He came back and put a foot down,” Hurdle said. “It was
    fun to watch. I think he found something that works, and he can replicate
    it.”Notes: The Pirates held their final workout at the Pirate City training
    facility and will move their camp five miles to their spring training ballpark
    for the exhibition season. The Pirates open Saturday against Philadelphia in
    Clearwater. LHP Steven Brault is scheduled to start for Pittsburgh. . County
    music singer Garth Brooks’ stay in camp ended Friday. He had been working out
    with the Pirates since pitchers and catchers reported Feb. 11. . C Elias Diaz
    missed his third straight workout because of illness.