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Brewers at Cubs – Free Pick August 29th

Milwaukee Brewers -121 at Chicago Cubs +111 (Total: 7.5)

Mike Fiers vs. Jeff Samardzija

Let’s face it, Milwaukee versus Chicago as the calendar turns towards September has about as much sizzle this season as the average NFL preseason game; it’s worth watching under two (and ONLY two) conditions:  One, you truly love the sport and want to watch the players in action, or two, you have a compelling reason to wager on a particular team.

It is with both those reasons in mind that tonight’s selection focuses on the rivalry clash (with little on the line) up in the Windy City.  Two young pitchers with outstanding potential (even if only Fiers is have an outstanding season) square off in what could be the beginning of a long head-to-head duel.  Samardzija is finally beginning to evolve past “hey, isn’t that the wide receiver from Notre Dame” into “you know, this guy looks like he could be a big league starter for the next decade.”  He has made the transition from reliever to starter, and though his record is just 8-11 (seriously, Sandy Koufax would go .500 with this defense behind him), his ERA is about to finally peek under 4.00, and in his last three starts he has looked fantastic, posting a 3.32 ERA but just a 1.11 WHIP.

Fiers, on the other hand, is a legit contender for National League Rookie of the Year honors (though my vote, if I had one, would go to the Reds Todd Frazier).  His 2.98 ERA and 1.11 WHIP place him in the Top 10 in the National League in each category, and he has been durable as well, with his average start extending well into the seventh inning.   His last three starts, however, have indicated the rookie might finally be feeling some fatigue.  He is 1-2 with a 9.88 ERA and a WHIP of 1.83.  Much of that can be attributed to a 2-inning, 8-run debacle in Colorado, but he failed to deliver a quality start in either of his other last two performances either.

That makes tonight’s line an interesting one.   It is tantalizing to take Chicago at home getting +110, until you look at what Milwaukee has done to the Cubs this season.  They have won seven in row, in dominant fashion, and eight of ten on the season.  They have pounded Cub pitching for 48 runs in the last seven games, an average of nearly seven runs per contest.  Samardzija has pitched well this season, but I don’t see him shutting down the Brewers in hitter-friendly Wrigley Field.

I like Milwaukee to put some runs on the board and for Fiers to take advantage of the extra day’s rest and have a nice bounce-back start.  Give me Milwaukee to win tonight.

Free Pick:  Milwaukee Brewers to WIN -121