Home / Sports / Everything you need to know as Cubs and Giants meet in Game 4 – ESPN

Everything you need to know as Cubs and Giants meet in Game 4 – ESPN

After the Giants kept their season alive with a wild Game 3 victory that took 13 innings to decide, the Cubs have another chance to finish the series in San Francisco. Will Chicago get the job done, or will the NLDS go the distance?

Go inside the numbers and matchups that will decide Tuesday night’s game, and then vote for which team will win at the bottom of the page.

Tale of the tape: NLDS starters

John Lackey

2016 stats

Matt Moore








Opp BA








Inside the pitching matchup

When John Lackey is on the mound: The veteran righty is making his 21st career postseason start and he has a long record of success going back to Game 7 of the 2002 World Series when he was a rookie with the Angels. He has been around long enough that in his first playoff game he faced Robin Ventura, who debuted in 1989.

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Lackey’s stuff remains as good as ever at age 37 (38 later this month), as he recorded his career-best strikeout rate. He comes at batters with a four-seam fastball, slider, curve and occasional changeup. The fastball sits 91-92 and he moves it around to all quadrants of the strike zone. The slider sits 82-84 with a late break that dives off the outside corner to righties. That’s certainly his go-to wipeout pitch, especially to righties, who hit .122 with a 37 percent strikeout rate against it. The Giants can stack the lineup with lefty swingers, but the slider is effective against them as well, as they hit just .133 against it.

Mike Montgomery is likely unavailable out of the Cubs’ bullpen after throwing 57 pitches and given Aroldis Chapman blowing up trying to get six outs, you have to think Joe Maddon will be reluctant to go that route again. Lackey has gone six-plus in 25 of 29 starts so the track record suggests he’ll get you deep into the game. — David Schoenfield

When Matt Moore is on the mound: Acquired from Tampa Bay for Matt Duffy, Moore went 6-5 with a 4.19 ERA for the Giants, displaying the same inconsistency he had with the Rays. He lost a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth against the Dodgers in August, but then gave up six runs in one-plus inning of work against them in September, only to bounce back with eight innings of one-run baseball against them in his final start.

Moore doesn’t throw 95-plus like he did when he first came up, as he now averages 92.7 mph with his fastball (he had Tommy John surgery in 2014). He complements that with a hard curve, cutter and changeup. The curveball is his best strikeout pitch with a K rate of 37 percent. With Moore it’s all about fastball command (hey!). When he gets behind in the count, he relies almost exclusively on his fastball and that’s when he gets pounded (.330/.493/.640). Most pitchers get hit hard when behind in the count, of course, and Moore actually has a league-average first-pitch strike percentage; his problem area is when he’s behind 1-0, he ranked 64th out of 74 qualified starters in strike percentage, so he ends up falling behind 2-0 too often. So watch those 1-0 pitches.

Even though Game 3 went 13 innings, the Giants’ bullpen is in OK shape workload-wise. Derek Law threw 35 pitches and Sergio Romo threw 32, but you have to think both will be available for at least an inning of work. — Schoenfield

Player in the spotlight

Will Anthony Rizzo finally have a breakthrough game against Giants starter Matt Moore? AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Anthony Rizzo. He’s 0-for-13 in the series with no walks and three strikeouts. He can handle lefties — .261/.366/.466 — and Moore works the outside corner with his fastball to lefties, exactly where Rizzo likes the ball. — Schoenfield

What will decide tonight’s game

Lackey’s slider has been his best pitch. Opponents are batting .125 and slugging .163 in AB ending in his slider, and he got 81 K’s with that pitch this season.

That will come in handy against Buster Posey, who’s hitting .209 in at-bats ending with a slider, with 18 K’s and 0 HR this season (regular season and postseason combined). — John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Info

Choosing sides: Who will win?

Matt Moore, meet John Lackey. You know, the guy who has been on the mound for two World Series titles and signed with the Cubs for one reason and one reason only: to win a third. Lackey will only use the heartbreak of the Cubs’ Game 3 loss to his advantage. He wants the ball in a big spot and he’s certainly going to get it. He won’t disappoint and the Cubs will close out the series tonight. — Jesse Rogers

Going by the sequence of W’s and L’s for the Cubs this series, it has played out about as expected. The way those decisions have actually come to pass …. that’s a whole other matter. As if they needed it, the Cubs were reminded on Monday that to knock out this Giants team once and for all, you can’t let them hang around. The Cubs left too many ducks on the pond early in Game 3 and it came back to bite them late. I think the righty bats will break out enough against Moore that they won’t lean on Lackey for the offensive production they’ve been getting from their other pitchers. The Giants should be a good matchup for Lackey as he can be fastball-aggressive just as he likes it against a San Francisco lineup short on big-time power. Cubs win and get ready for the NLCS. — Bradford Doolittle

The Cubs by all appearances made a fatal mistake by failing to snuff out the Giants’ hopes in Game 3. How do you go eight innings and not have better success against a bullpen that was famously flammable all the way through September? But momentum really is only as good as the next day’s starting pitchers and I like Lackey’s chances a lot better than Moore’s on Tuesday. The Cubs are well-equipped against left-handed pitching. Their .807 OPS against lefties was better than every NL team except the Diamondbacks and better than their own .759 OPS against righties. Also, Moore hasn’t been the same since his near no-hitter in L.A., when he threw 133 pitches, the most for any pitcher in the majors this year. The Giants’ bullpen pulled off an amazing escape once, but Moore will leave a heavy burden of innings and they won’t be able to repeat it a second night in a row. That will finally get the Cubs’ bats going and the Giants will fall to 10-1 in elimination games. — Mark Saxon

Where the series stands

As Madison Bumgarner said about his Giants after Game 3, “We are hard to kill.” You know the histories of these two clubs. I’d give the pitching edge to the Cubs in this one but their offensive struggles — pitchers have knocked in six of their 11 runs — are concerning. If the Giants win, Game 5 reverts back to Johnny Cueto versus Jon Lester at Wrigley. And there will be absolutely zero pressure on the Cubs to win that one. Right? — Schoenfield

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