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John Lackey vs. Matt Moore: Advantage Cubs or Giants?

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Which team will have the upper hand in starting pitching for Game 4?

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

You surely remember the division series game at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and Cardinals a year ago Thursday.

That was the series clincher, and John Lackey started... for the Cardinals. And the Cubs hit him hard, with the biggest blow Javier Baez’ three-run homer in the second inning.

Lackey was throwing that day out of desperation by Mike Matheny, on three days’ rest.

Today, Lackey’s got plenty of rest. His last outing was two weeks ago, September 27 in Pittsburgh. He threw five strong innings.

And this is exactly the kind of game for which Lackey was signed. He’s pitched and won the deciding game of the World Series twice: in 2002 with the Angels, in 2013 with the Red Sox.

Joe Maddon was the bench coach for the 2002 Angels, so he and Lackey go back quite a long way. Joe knows what to expect from Lackey and he should be ready to go for this one.

Matt Moore threw seven shutout innings in Game 1 of a 2011 division series between the Rays and Rangers — at the time he had just three games of big-league experience. He also had a solid relief appearance later in that series, although the Rays lost that series.

Two years later Moore again threw Game 1 of a division series, this time vs. the Red Sox. He got pounded for eight runs and didn’t finish the fifth inning.

Perhaps more important is that Joe Maddon was his manager for both those series, and in fact, for Moore’s first four big-league seasons. I would think that’d help the team with Joe’s familiarity with Moore, as well as whatever advance scouting reports the Cubs have on him.

Moore seems susceptible to the walk — in his 12 Giants starts, he walked 4.2 per nine innings. This should play into the Cubs’ usual game plan, which is working long counts. If they can get Moore out of there early, that would force Bruce Bochy into unusual bullpen arrangements. George Kontos didn’t pitch for the Giants Monday night, though he warmed up at least three different times. Many of the Giants relievers Monday — Derek Law, Sergio Romo and Ty Blach — threw a lot of pitches Monday and might not be available. Meanwhile, though Joe did go through most of his pen Monday, several relievers (particularly Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon) didn’t throw many pitches and could likely go again tonight.

Lackey’s experience in games like this are what should give the Cubs the advantage. Let’s hope it works out that way.