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Kris Bryant eager to face Gerrit Cole before playoffs

The Cubs are facing Gerrit Cole on Friday, and will likely see him in the playoffs. | Associated Press

When the Cubs face Gerrit Cole on Friday they could be looking at their future. It figures Cole will be the Pittsburgh Pirates’ starter if they’re in the National League wild-card game, likely against the Cubs.

And beyond clinching a playoff berth, the Cubs have a chance Friday to see Cole less than two weeks before the coin-flip game. It’s a chance Kris Bryant appreciates.

“I think that it’s good to see him right now, too, and kind of keep him fresh in our mind,” Bryant said. “We faced him last time too up in Pittsburgh, so yeah definitely, see what he’s doing and see what he’s got going good for him, see what he’s struggling with.”

A lot of things have gone well for Cole, who enters Friday 17-8 with a 2.64 earned-run average. If not for the seasons of Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, Cole’s name would be near the top of Cy Young discussions.

The Cubs have seen that firsthand, with Cole going 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in three starts. But on Friday they can see which pitches are working well, which ones aren’t and if he’s developed any tendencies that can be exploited next month.

“He competes. I think he’s one of the best pitchers in the league,” Bryant said. “Like I said, it will be nice to face him here and kind of keep him fresh in our minds. Seeing if we do play them in a wild-card game, it would be fresh and look at all that type of stuff to kind of tune up what we have to do.”

Well, manager Joe Maddon isn’t going that far.

“I don’t want to read too much into one outing. Things change so quickly,” Maddon said. “It’s about the starting pitcher on a particular day feeling good, executing his pitches. If a really good starter is out there and he’s feeling good and he’s executing what he wants to do it’s really hard to get him, regardless. If you catch him on the wrong day where the ball’s just not going where he wants it to, that’s the day that you want to catch him on.

“But his stuff’s going to be good. It’s all about whether or not he’s throwing the ball where he wants to today, or in the future.”