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Jake Arrieta vs. Madison Bumgarner: Advantage Cubs or Giants?

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Which pitcher has the upper hand tonight?

“I always have the upper hand” — Jake
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Cubs have won six of the nine games played so far against the Giants this year (seven games in the regular season and two in the NLDS).

Of the three losses, two were in games started by Madison Bumgarner, so does that give the Giants an advantage over Jake Arrieta?

For an answer we can begin with the game in which they faced each other just a bit more than a month ago, September 3 at Wrigley Field.

Jake threw one of his better games of the second half: four hits, three runs (two earned), two walks, seven strikeouts. Plus, he got a hit off MadBum and drove in one of the Cubs’ two runs in the game. The unearned run — in the first inning due to a throwing error by Tommy La Stella -- was the difference in the 3-2 loss. (You can be certain TLS will not be at third base tonight.)

MadBum threw six innings that day, allowed five hits and two runs and struck out 10. It was pretty much a draw between those two.

Bumgarner’s start in San Francisco against the Cubs was one of his best outings of the year. Sunday, May 22, he threw 7⅔ shutout innings, allowing only three singles and two walks (and a hit batter, Kris Bryant). He also drove in the only run of that game with a double off Kyle Hendricks.

Jake also had an outstanding start in San Francisco, Friday, May 20. He threw seven innings, allowed four hits, two walks and one run and struck out eight. He also had an RBI single in that one. Lifetime vs. the Giants, Jake is 5-for-16 (.313) with a double and a triple; at AT&T Park he’s 3-for-11 with a double.

Both struggled a bit in the second half of this year (Jake: 3.69 ERA, 1.072 WHIP in 13 post-All-Star starts, MadBum: 3.80 ERA, 1.103 WHIP in 15 post-All-Star starts). It’ll be chilly for Game 3, which usually favors pitchers. Bumgarner is also better at home (2.14 ERA, 0.935 WHIP) than on the road (3.39 ERA, 1.119 WHIP). On the other hand, the Cubs won 11 of the 15 games Jake started away from Wrigley Field this year, one of the reasons Joe Maddon and the front office set up the playoff rotation the way they did.

Things don’t always go to form, of course, which means the teams’ bullpens will be critical tonight, most likely. But this is one of the top pitching matchups so far this postseason. Enjoy, and hopefully we celebrate after this one.