Ding! Ding! Ding! We have another winner. We picked up another money line underdog winner last night when we backed the Chicago Cubs as road dogs against the Washington Nationals. I mentioned in my pick that I just saw this as a bad number. The Cubs are clearly the better team, and I know that it can be scary to bet against a starter as good as Steven Strasburg, but if you want to make a long-term profit betting baseball, fading great starters is a good way to do so.
Strasburg was decent, he pitched five and two thirds and allowed three earned runs and actually left the game with the lead. But in the end, these strong Chicago bats were just too much for the depleted Nats bullpen to stop. The Cubs tied the game at four runs apiece in the top of the eighth inning to force extra innings and then won the game 6-4 in the tenth, and we cashed our ticket.
I have been following a trend of betting against this Nationals team a lot recently, and it hasn’t disappointed. I just don’t see any way that this team can replace all the key pieces they just traded away, and while they are still playing hard, as evidenced by all the tight games they have been playing recently, they are just outmanned when playing the best teams in the National League. And right now, this Chicago Cubs team is the best team the NL has to offer, with a league-leading eighty-three wins on the season. For today’s pick, I will stay right here in Washington and take a look at game two of the series between the Nationals and the Cubs.
The Chicago Cubs are in Washington D.C. Friday for game two of a four-game series with the Nationals. The Cubs took a one game to none series lead last night with a come from behind victory in extra innings. With the win, the Cubs were able to pick up an extra half of a game lead over the idle Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National League Central Division. After an especially brutal waiver trade deadline, the Nats are reeling and have lost four out of their last five games.
Starting tonight for the Cubs is their ace, Jon Lester (15-5 3.53 ERA) and for the Nationals, it is Joe Ross (0-0 0.00 ERA). The Cubs are -130 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at nine and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM PST from Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
Jon Lester was enjoying one of the best seasons of his storied career earlier this year. He was named to the National League All-Star team and was in the running for the NL Cy Young Award with a 12-2 record with a 2.58 ERA at the break. Lester then struggled through August as he posted a 2-1 record with a 5.81 ERA in five starts. It was surprising to see him get knocked around as historically he has always been a very consistently solid starter.
He seems to have gotten things turned around lately though as he has been very good over the last month. In his last four starts, Lester has pitched a total of twenty-three and two-thirds of an inning and has allowed just four earned runs. He is 3-0 in that stretch, and the Cubs have won each game. His last start against the Nationals was likely his worst start of the season as he lasted just three and two-thirds of an inning and gave up nine runs. He will be looking for some revenge tonight against a Washington lineup with significantly less pop than the last time he pitched against them.
The Nationals will turn to Joe Ross today to make his first start of the year after missing more than a year with Tommy John surgery. Ross is hoping that he can make a couple of starts down the stretch of the season and impress management enough to earn a spot in next year’s rotation. It is really hard to expect much from Ross today as he hasn’t been on a major league mound in so long. The general consensus is that it takes at least a full year of pitching to fully recover from Tommy John surgery, so if history is right, Ross is going to struggle tonight.
This is another horrifically bad number. For my loyal readers, you know that I much prefer to find underdogs to back instead of backing favorites. But in a situation like this one, I don’t mind laying a little wood as this number is way out of line. I see the Cubs as -180 favorites in this one and could even be talked into higher. Yeah, I know Lester struggled in August, but the guy seems to be right back on track, and he is pitching against a guy that hasn’t pitched in fourteen months and wasn’t all that good before he got injured.
Having to make his first start in ages against the best offense in the National League is going to be a tough pill for him to swallow, he could get absolutely hammered in this one. The books have been posting some very peculiar numbers recently with this Washington Nationals team. It’s like I am the only one that noticed they gutted their team a week ago. I have bet against them all week long as they have strangely been favorites against quality teams like the Cubs and Brewers.
And I will bet against them today as them only being small favorites just doesn’t add up either. I get to back the best team in the NL against a Washington Nationals team in freefall, and I only have to lay a dollar thirty? Give me all of that. Give me the Chicago Cubs as small road favorites tonight in game two from Washington D.C.!