October Confidential: Cubs

Rival players offer inside look at facing NL Central champs

October Confidential: Cubs

How do you beat the Cubs? MLB.com asked rival players from around Major League Baseball to offer an inside look at how best to face the NL Central champions.

NLDS Game 1: Friday, 6:30 p.m. CT on TBS

Jon Lester
"He brings an angle unlike any lefty, especially to a right-handed hitter. It's tough to get your swing path accurately lined up to his angle. That makes it hard to repeatedly be productive against him. He can throw anything in any count. He's an absolute bulldog and has been his whole career. He's a guy you want in the postseason."
-- NL Central infielder

Game Date Matchup TV/Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 6 CHC 3, WSH 0 WATCH
Gm 2 Oct. 7 WSH 6, CHC 3 WATCH
Gm 3 Oct. 9 CHC 2, WSH 1 WATCH
Gm 4 Oct. 11 WSH 5, CHC 0 WATCH
Gm 5 Oct. 12 CHC 9, WSH 8 WATCH

"I think his cutter to right-handed hitters is probably his best pitch. But he's obviously a seasoned veteran, so he knows how to pitch. You have to go up there and battle."
-- NL Central outfielder

Jake Arrieta
"The tough part is he really steps across his body when he delivers the ball. It makes it difficult for right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters. He's not necessarily stepping directly to the plate. He's stepping left or right. It makes him effective. He has good command to both sides of the plate with all his pitches, and he has above-average pitches for the most part. He can play off his fastball, cutter-slider pitch and his curveball. That makes him difficult. To have success, just get a pitch to hit and hit it. He's going to throw you fastballs. He's not going to pound you with offspeed pitches and try to get you to chase. He's going to come after you and give you the opportunity to get your pitches. There's going to be a pitch to hit, most times, but you've got to take advantage of it."
-- NL Central outfielder

Arrieta strikes out the side

"Arrieta is tough for righties just because of the angle. There's really no pitch you look for because he'll mix it up pretty good -- the cutter, slider, sinker, curveball. It's the angle that he pitches at which makes him difficult."
-- NL Central outfielder

Jose Quintana
"We haven't seen much of him here, but you see the numbers and how consistent he's been. He uses all four quadrants especially well. He can throw any of his pitches at any time. They picked him up for this stretch. ... He'll be a force for them. You can't chase what he's trying to do to you. You have to make sure you barrel mistakes and put mistakes in play, or he's going to eat you up."
-- NL Central infielder

"He's more of a traditional lefty pitcher, but he has good stuff."
-- NL Central outfielder

Wade Davis
"We haven't seen him too much in this division, but he has command of all his pitches. He commands them all and commands them well. He locates. When he needs to make a pitch, he makes a pitch. He doesn't give you a whole lot to hit. He might give you one that's hittable. You've got to be ready to hit it. If he gets ahead, he can locate all his pitches and locate them well. That makes him more difficult to hit."
-- NL Central outfielder

Davis K's Susac to secure win

"It's a different angle. It seems like it's coming down from the clouds. He's real tall and he's straight over the top. His curveball I remember being very different, really big and sharp. It's just not a very comfortable at-bat."
-- NL Central infielder

Kris Bryant
"The thing that makes him so tough is that he covers so much plate. His stance is kind of closed. It's not a step forward or a step out. It's a step across. He's not far off the plate, but that step in gets him in swing mode. At the beginning of the year, he had a hole low and away. Low-and-away fastballs were safe. But now he'll sit low and away. You can throw him a fastball off the plate, and he'll poke it for a double. He's covering that so much. His swing stays through the zone a long time. You really have to bury an offspeed pitch. A right-on-right changeup inside can give him trouble. If you leave that changeup anywhere over the middle of the plate, he'll hook it down the line."
-- NL Central starter

Bryant's RBI double to left

"He's just a great hitter. You really have to make your pitches and just miss. Change speeds and keep the ball out of the middle."
-- NL Central starter

Anthony Rizzo
"He doesn't strike out looking, and everyone knows that -- and umpires know that. He gets really aggressive. He knows his pitch that he wants to hit that at-bat and will sell out to that. You could throw three sliders in the dirt and he'll swing at all three, then his next at-bat, he'll come up looking for that pitch again that got him out. If it's anywhere up, he'll crush it. Earlier in the year, he was on top of the plate a lot more and choked up a lot more, looking for singles. Later, he wasn't choking up as much and he was stepping more off the plate. That opened up low and away to him. When he's on top of the plate, you can go up and in because he'll pop it up or swing at it. He's also a big threat. He's the cog in their engine. He can be an intimidating presence, especially for younger guys, because he's on top of the dish and swings so hard."
-- NL Central starter

"Before he crowded the plate, you used to be able to sink him away and hope for a ground ball to the infield, and if not, he'd shoot the ball the other way for a base hit. But it wouldn't be any real damage and you could beat him up inside, up and in for a while. But he crowded the plate, which you'd think would be counter-intuitive. He's figured out how to get to the ball on the inner half as well, so he kind of covers both now. He's only really been that player for the last few years."
-- NL Central starter

Kyle Schwarber
"If you don't make your pitches, he can hurt you. If you bounce three sliders, he's going to swing at them. If he lays off one, you can throw a fourth and he'll still swing at it. But you have to have confidence, knowing that 'I can do this because if I don't, he'll crush it.' He swings so hard. He hits homers. He covers a lot of the plate. His swing's long. You can throw fastballs off the plate and he'll go after them. But if it comes back over the middle of the plate, he'll hit it hard. Execute your pitches, and you'll be fine."
-- NL Central starter

Harvey K's Schwarber

"You want to stay out of the middle of the plate. Schwarber, you can get him with elevated fastballs in. I stay soft early. He's a mistake hitter, and when you leave one in his swing path, he does good damage to it."
-- NL Central starter

Willson Contreras
"He's tough. He's like [Javier] Baez but with a little more discipline. If you make a mistake, he's going to make you pay for it. He strikes out a lot, but he'll take his walks, too. And he's got the power to punish mistakes. He's a wild card. The numbers show you can beat him up and in or get him to chase out of the zone, but you have to make your pitches."
-- NL Central starter