After one of the most bizarre and epic NLDS elimination games in history, we are set for a National League Championship Series rematch. This year, the team’s respective mojo’s are reversed, with the Dodgers being the “best team in baseball” and owning home field advantage. It is the Dodgers wearing the heavy mantle of expectations while the Cubs, somehow, someway, after returning a nearly intact world championship team, are almost returned to the role of loveable underdog.
Their underdog status will be highly deserved tonight, as they will face Dodger ace, Clayton Kershaw. Yes, Kershaw has had his storied litany of seventh-inning postseason mishaps, but is their REALLY anyone on Earth in 2017 you’d rather hand the baseball too than Clayton Kershaw? I’m waiting…
The Cubs have hardly had time to catch their breath before heading out West to begin a series against the most dominant force in the game. But will that quick turnaround be a hinderance or a subtle advantage? The “rest vs. rust” argument has been waged across many sports over many decades, and the truth is, no real statistical advantage has emerged. It is more something “we” affix meaning to after the fact; once the result is in hand, we use it as a feeble explanation for sports.
So, let’s look at tonight as an independent variable; two of the best teams in the world with young, potent lineups, going head to head to take the first step towards the 2017 World Series.
Today’s MLB Pick:
Chicago Cubs +155 at Los Angeles Dodgers -180
Undecided (but it will be Quintana or Lackey) vs. Clayton Kershaw
Quick early disclaimer, many sportsbooks do not have an official line at this point on the game as the Cubs have yet to announce a starting pitcher. But I like the Dodgers either way. There are really only two options for Maddon tonight; Quintana or Lackey. If it is Quintana, I’m going to need more than -180 to back Kershaw and the Dodgers. If it is Lackey, I’m cool with the value.
But let’s talk about the larger issue; the Cubs have to face Clayton Kershaw. And for all the talk of Kershaw’s postseason foibles, he is in a rare position tonight of being thoroughly rested. Max Scherzer reminded us two nights ago while elite starting pitchers NEED four days to recover. Kershaw has had a week. Look for him to be DOMINANT tonight. I think he will throw up at least six innings of zeros with maybe a single blip at most. It should be enough to get the Dodgers an relatively comfortable victory to open the series.
Again, you will want to keep an eye on the pitching matchup tonight. If it is Lackey, I like the Dodgers on the -1.5 runline to steal a little extra value. If it is Quintana, I’ll keep it closer to the vest.
Today’s MLB Pick: LOS ANGELES DODGERS TO WIN -180