We notched another winner last night to push our September MLB record to 7-3 ATS with two monster underdogs in the mix and moved to a nice, tidy 10-4-1 over the last three weeks. Playoff races are heating up and fortunately, we are too. It is officially go-time for three teams in the National League, all jockeying fiercely for two wildcard spots as the Giants, Cardinals and Mets are all jockeying back and forth.
For New York and St. Louis, the path to the postseason is clear. Grab the wildcard, hope for the best in a one-day playoff and then gear up to stun the Cubbies. Not an enviable path to the finish line for cure. For the Giants, the hope for a simpler way begins (and possibly ends) over the next week. The Giants are hoping their new-found offensive mojo remains intact (it was last night as we won with Matt Moore outdueling Greinke in a 5-3 winner) as they face the Padres for a very winnable home series while the Dodgers head to the Bronx to meet the surging Yankees. This week will go a long way to seeing if they can be in striking range when the series with the Dodgers starts a week today, tentatively slated for Kershaw vs. Bumgarner (a reasonable challenge to MNF for viewers – that is about as good as regular season baseball can possibly be!)
I’m pulling for a Giants strong week, simply because that series has the potential to be electric. Right now, LA is only up three thanks to a three game sweep this weekend from the revitalized Giants.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Chicago Cubs -145 at St. Louis Cardinals +135 (Total: 8)
Kyle Hendricks (14-7, 2.07 ERA) vs. Mike Leake (9-9, 4.61 ERA)
I am having more an more difficulty finding a reason why Kyle Hendricks isn’t the NL Cy Young winner this season. And yet, I admit, at first speeding glance through today’s matchups, this game didn’t leap off the page as free money the way Arrieta or Lester get your attention. Forget the fact that Hendricks is seismically statistically better than Jake over the last three months, ergo the entire season as well, it is simply that no one really expected anything CLOSE to this before the season. Hendricks was one of the few question marks heading into the season. He has turned in to the exclamation point. Over his last ten starts only ONE was a non-quality start, and that was only because he left the game one OUT too soon. In his last ten outings he has allowed ZERO or ONE run SEVEN times. He has a 4.5:1 K to BB ratio and a WHIP under one at 0.99. He has been DOMINANT. Simply put, the best pitcher on the best staff in the league (sorry Mets).
Meanwhile, Leake has been about as average as it gets. .500 record, middling four’s ERA, to go with stuff that is most often described as “crafty.” The Cardinals are at home, but this season that is a DIS-advantage as opposed to the edge it normally is. They are just 32-39 at home this season.
This series means WAY more to the Cardinals postseason chances, but don’t think the Cubs aren’t plenty keen on leaning through the tape and making sure the October-savvy Redbirds aren’t there to try and avenge last season’s playoff exit. Yes, the Mets and Giants have scarier starting pitching options, but no one in Chicago really wants to flirt with the possibility of Yadier Molina and company reviving some October magic.
Chicago is simply rolling and they are throwing out the hottest pitcher in the league tonight. It’s really hard to find any reason not to go Chicago tonight, even at -145. The only question is if you want to get greedy and go for the -1.5 runline to juice up your payout.
I’m going to play tonight straight at just take the Cubs at -145, but I am strongly drawn to the even money runline as well.