We grabbed a winner in the NLCS opener last night as the Dodgers got a good (but not amazingly dominant) pitching performance from Clayton Kershaw who went only five innings, allowing four hits and two runs, before giving way to eventual winning pitcher Kenta Maeda. In fact, Kershaw was fortunate to not be saddled with a loss as his mates got him off the hook, despite leaving for a pinch-hitter trailing 2-0.
The good news is Kershaw threw only 87 pitches. The bad news is, once again, it is getting harder and harder to ignore some of the postseason warts on Kershaw’s otherwise “best pitcher of his era” resume.
The Cubs find themselves in a familiar place; trailing in a series but undeterred, looking to get a big clutch win and even up the series. They will send Jon Lester to the mound against Rich Hill in a massive Game Two tonight on TBS at 7:38pm EST. Can they even up the series??
Today’s MLB Pick:
NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES – GAME TWO (DODGERS LEAD 1-0)
Chicago Cubs +140 at Los Angeles Dodgers -150 (Total: 7.5)
Jon Lester vs. Rich Hill
There is something soothing for Cubs fans to have the postseason animal Jon Lester getting the ball in a huge spot. But fatigue could be a concern as well. Lester threw 51 pitches in Game 4 of the NL Division Series on Wednesday so he will come into the outing on basically three days’ rest. He also pitched in Game 2 of the NLDS in a game the Cubs lost to the Nationals. His workload has been heavy, but the cubs really, REALLY need him tonight.
Meanwhile, Rich Hill enters with a ton of rest and a ton of confidence. He looked like the 2016 Cy Young candidate in September after a minor injury-riddled season and a tough August. In the final month of the season, Hill posted a 1.86 ERA and a 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio, fanning a whopping 40 batters in 29 innings. The 37-year old veteran has been excellent and will be comfortable tonight at home, where his season ERA was more than a run lower (2.77 ERA).
This is a huge game with some talented arms on the mound. They also have an off day tomorrow for travel, so expect both managers to use their bullpens aggressively if needed. I also expect BOTH starters to be good enough to keep this game close, tense, and low-scoring.
I’ll lean Cubs from a VALUE standpoint, but it is also tough to pull the trigger betting against Rich Hill the way he has been going the last six weeks. However, 7.5 is enough cushion for me to take the UNDER tonight. I like a tense 3-2 type baseball game tonight in Chavez Ravine.
Today’s MLB Pick: RUN TOTAL UNDER 7.5