Mike Bauman: Cubs Pittsburgh is the second-best team in baseball, by record, but the Cubs are third. And since late June, nobody on the planet has been pitching better than Jake Arrieta.
Hal Bodley: Cubs I have to go with the Cubs because one game comes down to pitching and Arrieta has been almost unhittable, especially since the All-Star break. The bullpens could be a key, but Arrieta (22-6, 1.77) had an 0.86 ERA over his final 20 starts.
Anthony Castrovince: Pirates Despite struggles against Arrieta, the Pirates had the highest OPS among NL playoff teams against pitchers with an ERA+ of 120 or better. They'll make the adjustment, and Gerrit Cole will take it from there.
Alyson Footer: Cubs This has little to do with who is hosting this game (Pirates) or who has more wins (Pirates) or who has more postseason experience (Pirates). This is about Arrieta, whose historically dominant second half has earned him the title of the League's Most Unhittable Pitcher. Cole will be good. Arrieta will be better by a hair, and that'll be enough for the Cubs to win.
Richard Justice: Pirates The Pirates are a postseason-toughened team that is driven to take the next step. Cole and Andrew McCutchen will own the day. The Cubbies are good, but they're not where the Bucs are.
Terence Moore: Cubs In Arrieta, the Cubs have a hex killer and a Pirates killer. If you add that to the clutch bats of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, I'm hearing something that a former announcer for the team used to scream: "Cubs win!"
Jeff Nelson: Cubs I love the Pirates, but Joe Madden and the Cubs will prevail. Arrieta, who in my opinion should be this season's NL Cy Young Award winner, will dominate the Bucs and move the Cubs into the Division Series vs. the Cards.
Marty Noble: Pirates The Pirates have compelling big-game talent.
Tracy Ringolsby: Pirates The Bucs have the depth and experience, add in the home-field advantage, though the visiting team has won four of six since the one-game Wild Card was added to the postseason.
Phil Rogers: Cubs Flip a coin. The Pirates have gone 8-1 in Cole's starts against the Cubs, but that one loss came this season; the last pitcher to roll into the postseason on a high like Arrieta's was Orel Hershiser in 1988, and he was the Most Valuable Player in the NL Championship Series and the World Series.
Lyle Spencer: Pirates How do you pick against Arrieta? It's not easy, but something tells me Pittsburgh will find a way. The balanced, confident Pirates have a great chance to go all the way if they can get past Arrieta.