MLB Picks Today: Cubs at Nationals NLDS Game 2
Can Cubs Make It 2-0 Before Returning To Chicago?
The Chicago Cubs still have high ambitions. They are the defending champs after all. Friday's 3-0 win over the Nationals surely must add to that confidence.
Washington only managed two hits in the loss and look to bounce back on Saturday at home before heading to Chicago for what they hope isn't a potentially season ending Game 3 for them. They are favored here over the Cubbies, but not by much.
We were a bit shocked with the result as well, and it was our only loss of the day in which we went 3-1, bringing our playoff record to 5-1 so far.
The Washington Nationals know this is a must win situation, but how many times do teams lose must win scenarios? Especially at home in Nationals Park, they might get nerves more than anything. If ace Max Scherzer was available for tonight, things might have been different, but with Gio starting, it's not looking too good. Their offense is already stagnant, and without a good pitcher, there's not much hope.
Gonzalez ended the season badly, and the Nats are 0-4 in his last 4 starts against the Cubs and 1-4 in his last 5 home starts against them. Lester, on the other hand, has more postseason experience, ended the season a lot stronger, and is 8-1 in his last 9 against NL East foes. At best, this line should be around even, but with the Cubs at plus money, they have the value. You could also sprinkle a little on the RL.
Take the Chicago Cubs at +110 at Sports Interaction
Cubs at Nationals NLDS Game 2
The Chicago Cubs look to continue the good times going into Game 2, and know how important a 2-0 cushion will be heading back to Chicago. Anthony Rizzo was responsible for most of the damage in the low scoring game, hitting in two runs. The 28-year-old has been fire in recent postseason games, going 19 for 54 with 3 home runs and 12 RBIs in his last 14.
Kris Bryant provided the other RBI in the win. Apart from Kyle Hendricks' impressive play, Wade Davis has been great at shutting the door, and has allowed just one earned run in 28.1 innings.
Lefty Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33 ERA) gets the nod for Saturday. While he has faced the Nationals twice this season, resulting in a no-decision 0-0 record with a 2.84 ERA, Lester hasn't beaten them since 2009, a full eight years ago. The 33-year-old ended the season pretty strong, after a mediocre start, going 5-1 in September, and is no stranger to postseason play, having made 22 appearances, 19 of which were starts. His record is 9-7 with a 2.63 ERA in those playoff games.
The Washington Nationals know that if they lose this game at home, they'll need to win twice in Chicago before getting a chance to come back home. Two more losses and it would mean the fourth time in six years in which they failed to win their first series.
Winning the division doesn't mean much if you keep making first round exits. Jayson Werth hasn't been producing, and after ending the season going 10 for 76, couldn't contribute at the plate on Friday night either. Bryce Harper did what he could, contributing for half of the team's 2 hits last night, but has been contained to singles since he returned from his knee injury.
Ace Max Scherzer isn't available for this game and needs more rest because of a hamstring injury, so Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 2.96 ERA) will take to the mound. The 32-year-old ended the season poorly, losing 4 of 6 and allowing 9 runs and 12 hits in 9.1 innings in his last 2 starts.
Against the Cubs this season, he holds a 0-1 record, but only allowed a single run in 6 innings. All time against the same team, Gonzalez is 3-3 with a 3.06 ERA in 10 career starts, allowing 44 hits and striking out 63 in 61.2 innings pitched. Gio's no stranger to the postseason either, but still has less experience than Lester. In 4 playoff appearances, he's recorded all no decisions with a 3.93 ERA.
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