New York and Chicago. Jake Arrieta, John Lester, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom. Bryant and Cespedes and Rizzo. Star cities, star pitchers, star players all over the field; an explosion of young talent on the biggest stage in baseball. It is going to be a fantastic series.
And it may never have been had it not been for Daniel Murphy, both the subtle and the sublime. By now, you have already seen and heard a ton about Murphy picking the pocket of the entire Dodgers team on his steal of third after a walk. “Steal” probably doesn’t even do one of the cleverest heads-up plays (from a Mets perspective) I’ve ever seen on a baseball field. And then to cap it with the go-ahead and eventual winning homerun? Murphy has firmly cemented himself forever in New York sports lore.
But does the magic ride continue? Well, Vegas doesn’t think so. They have the Cubs at pretty heavy -145 favorites after taking all seven matchups in the regular season. I’m not officially picking the Mets, but with the young rotation lined up and looking dominant and home field advantage and the Cubs question marks with their third and fourth starters, the Mets have some decent value in this series.
Let’s deal with tonight first and Game One of what promised to be a thrilling NLCS.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Chicago Cubs +111 vs. New York Mets -116 (Total: 6.5)
Jon Lester vs. Matt Harvey
The Dark Knight of Gotham will face off against a foe New Yorkers know very well, Jon Lester. Ironically, neither is their team’s number one starter despite opening the season as such. Arrieta and deGrom have surpassed their more heralded teammates, but make no mistake, tonight is still a battle of two aces and two big stars.
So who has the edge?
Both have been overpowering in their last three starts, striking out 22 batters each. Lester did in four more innings, 21, but also did it with just a single walk as opposed to Harvey’s still-impressive two. Both have ERA’s just a shade over two and both are on plenty of rest to be effective tonight. It should be a good pitching performance on both sides.
Both teams have rosters full of powerful free-swingers. So the game COULD go one of two ways: the first is that powerful sluggers like Cespedes, Duda, Bryant and Schwarber run into a few fastballs and notch some homeruns. Both teams hit a ton of them this season.
The other route is the one I am taking; good pitching outperforming good hitting. Harvey’s stuff has been excellent and he has shown no ill-effect of some of the rust I was concerned about prior to his last outing. Likewise, Lester has been excellent of late and is certainly no stranger to the postseason lights. I like him to be big tonight as well. My lean in on the Cubbies at a good value of +111, but my official play tonight is on both pitchers bridging the gaps to the late innings and going seven strong. This feels like a good 3-2, 3-1 type ballgame to me. Citi Field will be electric tonight, and I expect two big-game pitchers to follow suit.