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Cubs vs. Dodgers NLCS Game Five Pick – Oct 20th

My trust in larger sample size and regressions to the mean were paid in large dividends last night as the Cubs vented two nights of offensive misery in loud and early fashion, jumping all over the Dodgers and cruising to an easy and drama-free 10-2 victory.  More importantly than the win and the margin might be the awakening of Anthony Rizzo, who had to be beginning to feel the weight of a fruitless offensive postseason.  He went yard early with a solo shot and recorded two more RBI’s later in the night.  He should come back to the park tonight with plenty of freshly bolstered confidence.

Other than that whole “Kershaw” thing…

But wait… Kershaw ISN’T STARTING?!?  That decision would have been difficult had the Dodgers won last night, but with the decisive loss, it seemed there would be no doubt as to who gets the ball in tonight’s Game Five for the Dodgers.  Using Kershaw tonight not only (obviously) gives them the best chance to win, it also introduces the possibility he could return in a relief appearance in the decisive Game Seven if necessary.  I’m stunned Maeda is the announced starter tonight.

The decision is even MORE academic for the Cubs, because they get Jon Lester on his normally scheduled date.  Given the way Lester has thrown lately, I am not sure the Dodgers would have had a definite edge tonight, even with the potentially dominating Kershaw on the mound…

Let’s dive in to tonight’s free pick.

Today’s Free Pick:

Chicago Cubs -150 at Los Angeles Dodgers +144 (Total: 7)

Jon Lester vs. Kenta Maeda

Again, I can’t believe I am not writing a “Lester v. Kershaw” column today.  I had it pre-loaded in my brain when I woke up, just assuming it must be the path.  Alas, Kenta Maeda will get the ball in this ultra-pivotal matchup in Chavez Ravine.

Maeda’s last outing was yet another short and ineffective postseason appearance, lasting just four innings and allowing three runs.  I don’t think he can afford to be even close to that loose tonight with Lester opposing him, but there is little over the last month to suggest a dominant start is forthcoming.  Add in the swell of confidence from the Cubs from finally breaking the seal last night and it is hard to see Maeda faring particularly well tonight.

Meanwhile, Lester is simply dealing in the postseason.  He has allowed just a single run in October and enters tonight with a WHIP of 0.71.  He has been pitch-efficient, only walking a single batter while fanning eight.  I like him to continue where he left off and to leave Dodger fans wondering (loudly) why oh why they left Kershaw on the pine.

Free Pick:  Chicago Cubs to WIN -150