The Chicago Cubs were stymied by the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, as Luis Castillo put up another solid showing. The Cubs got ahead by a score of 2-0, but a 3-run 5th inning by the Reds was the difference. After a long weather delay, the Reds added another run and the door was slammed shut by the bullpen.
The Reds can sneak up on teams here and there, but they must develop into more of a constant threat. The Cubs are ahead of the Brewers by a half a game going into Friday, while the Reds are 6.5 back of 1st. Meanwhile, there is a ways to go for the Washington Nationals in the NL East. It’s not even the end of May, but we can turn the lights out on their season.
Losing Bryce Harper hurts, but they’re not last because of no Harper in the lineup. Certainly that’s the easy explanation, but the Nationals were better than this last season with Harper struggling to start 2018. If you recall, he was an auto out for two or three months, so him failing to resign with the Nationals doesn’t explain the Nats’ struggles right now.
Note that Washington are going into this weekend with a record of 18-25. They found a 7-6 win over the Mets yesterday but there hasn’t been much of a reason to celebrate this season. Max Scherzer is still in Washington, but he doesn’t have much of a supporting cast to work with.
The Nationals are banking on Anthony Rendon having a big summer. It isn’t going to matter in the end, but at least win some ball games in the summer to keep things interesting. Rendon is also banking on a big contract coming up. He’s been meeting with the Nationals to work out a deal, but he could ultimately be trade bait, along with Scherzer soon. Scherzer will get the nod on Friday, while the Cubs are expected to counter with Cole Hamels. It makes for a pretty attractive pitching matchup on paper. Head below for our free Cubs vs. Nationals pick.
Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals Pick:
Betting odds provided by bovada.lv
Max Scherzer has been pitching solidly for the Nationals, but he has shown some vulnerabilities to start the season. For a pitcher of his caliber, it’s certainly different to see a record of 2-4 and 3.64 ERA. Most pitchers in the majors would be thrilled to have an ERA of 3.64. Not the case for a pitcher like Scherzer. That said, he has been looking better with an ERA of 2.70 in his previous three starts. He can’t do anything to assist their awful bullpen, though.
Things get sweaty for the Nationals after the relievers start to trot out from the pen. That’s because the Nationals are dead last in 30th with a total team ERA of 6.30 from their relievers. The average in the National League is a 4.31 ERA, so they’re well off the pace. Scherzer can help the bullpen out by being perfect and going late into this game. But he hasn’t been that great this season overall. Any issue early and the ball gets handed over to a high school bullpen.
On the other side, the Cubs are a top-10 bullpen with an ERA of 3.90. Cole Hamels has capable of a strong game as well. Hamels hasn’t suffered a loss yet this season and it’s been a while since he has had a bad showing. He’s allowed more than 3 runs only once, which came back on March 31st.
Hamels is coming off a stellar effort against the Brewers, as he allowed just 3 hits and 1 run in 7 innings. The Nationals are hitting only .228 against Hamels in 193 at-bats. The price in this game makes little sense to me. Yeah, Scherzer should be a favorite at home, though this much of a hefty price against a good team like the Cubs? I don’t think so. Scherzer hasn’t looked like he is in elite form to justify it. There seems to be a lot of value on the Cubs to get the win on Friday.