Well now… maybe it is time to be a little concerned Chicago. For the first time this season, the Cubs face REAL game pressure tonight as they head into Chavez Ravine down 2-1 and KNOWING if they fail to get it done tonight they will have to win three straight games with at LEAST one of them including Clayton Kershaw. That makes tonight an all but “must win” game for the long suffering Cubs and their faithful.
Will they be able to withstand the pressure? More importantly, will they ever score another run? They went the ENTIRE season without being shutout in two consecutive games, but that is exactly where they find themselves right now.
It’s going to be electric tonight in LA, and the pitching matchup couldn’t be more extreme, pitting the MLB active leader in postseason starts against a dynamic, electric rookie making his first.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Chicago Cubs -111 at Los Angeles Dodgers +101 (Total: 7)
John Lackey vs. Julio Urias
This pick tonight requires a leap of faith either way: you either need to discount 167 games and suddenly believe that the league’s most effective non-Coors Field offense is suddenly inept and scared OR you need to believe, despite a shaky postseason of evidence, especially against left-handed pitching (.167 team average) that things will regress to the norm; tonight.
I’m going to go with two factors in tonight’s pick; the larger sample size and the emotional benefit of veteran pitching experience. Could Urias be electric tonight and give a pitching performance for the ages? Certainly. We see if happen all the time in the postseason, a young, relative unknown launches forward on to the national scene. But we also see the opposite even more often; veteran, savvy, trusted team-leader musters forward a gutty postseason performance when his team needs it most. I’ll take the MLB’s active leader in postseason starts to do just that tonight.
Urias is left-handed, which by recent sample gives him an edge against the Cubs lineup, and it is a cause for concern. That’s the reason for the near even-money line tonight. But the 20-year old rookie has only pitched a total of 16 real innings in the last month and a half. This is a difficult place to make a dramatic re-emergence to the scene. I think the Cubs will get some baserunners, and some runs, early, and force the Dodgers into another long bullpen game. That won’t be the worst thing in the world for LA – they have the best bullpen in the league and are likely banking on Kershaw going seven strong tomorrow night and then an off-day (if needed). But it should be just enough to get the veteran Lackey the lead and let him handle his business from there.
The Cubs have certainly left a ton of room for doubt with their postseason hitting (can we get a missing persons report issued for Anthony Rizzo??) but I am going to bank on a regression to the larger mean tonight and a solid performance from Lackey to set up a ridiculous Game Five between Lester and Kershaw with the series knotted.