The Washington Nationals must expose these Chicago Cubs flaws in order to survive Game 4 of the NLDS.
Despite being no-hit by Max Scherzer for more than six innings, the Chicago Cubs were able to escape with a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Monday. The Cubs now lead the NLDS series 2-1 and are one win away from a repeat NLCS matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Pending inclement weather, the Cubs and Nationals will face off in Game 4 at Wrigley Field on Tuesday afternoon. Jake Arrieta will take the mound for the Cubs and he will be opposed by Tanner Roark. It is an obvious pitching advantage for the Cubs in an elimination game for Washington.
That being said, this is an extremely talented Nationals team and it is not like the Cubs are perfect. They have flaws on their roster, and Washington simply must be able to take advantage of them in order to survive. Here are three major Cubs flaws that the Nationals must expose in their Game 4 matchup.
3. Arrieta’s lack of command
Arrieta has been strong this season, posting a 3.53 ERA (4.11 xFIP) in 30 starts for the Cubs. He is not exactly the same guy who dominated the league on his way to a Cy Young Award in 2015, but he is still a strong pitcher who can dominate at any time.
When Arrieta has struggled this season, it has commonly been due to his control. His 7.8% walk rate for the year is not awful, but there are certainly times where Arrieta seems to lose his command and it really hurts him.
Washington must force him to throw strikes and capitalize on the opportunities that they get. If the Nationals’ hitters get in favorable counts, Arrieta will groove pitches looking to find an extra strike. That will allow for many home run opportunities for the Nationals’ sluggers.
If he’s on, the Nationals may be in trouble. However, if Arrieta struggles at all to locate his pitches, the Nationals must stay patient and force him to come over the plate. Like most pitchers, Arrieta gets in the most trouble when working from behind.