We started off the postseason with a winner, albeit a wild one, with the Diamondbacks and the Rockies lighting up the scoreboard late into the night. Alas, the ‘Backs prevailed, and we are set with a National League doubleheader between the clear four best teams in the NL. The Diamondbacks were understandably “all hands on deck” after Greinke got roughed up, but having to use Robbie Ray AND Greinke in the same game causes some interesting challenges in the upcoming series against the mighty Dodgers. Los Angeles led MLB in wins, and for four months flirted with “historical greatness.” They came back to Earth, but are still a frightening team to start a series with your #3 starter…
The Diamondbacks, of course, believe in their players, but Tijuan Walkers vs. Clayton Kershaw isn’t a matchup they can be relishing… Unless the seventh inning once again rears its head against Kershaw…
Meanwhile, the Cubs will open with Kyle Hendricks against Stephen Strasburg. The selection of Hendricks might be more of an indictment of the Cubs pitching than a strong vote of confidence in the oft-overlooked “other” starter. Lester and Arrieta just haven’t been that good. And if they can recapture some magic immediately, it is likely the Cubs won’t be recreating any magic either…
It’s a great day of baseball, with four straight games to last us from lunchtime until the wee hours of the morning, so saddle up and get ready for some awesome postseason action!
Today’s MLB Pick:
NLDS GAME ONE
Chicago Cubs +150 at Washington Nationals -160 (Total: 7)
Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.03 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 2.52 ERA)
It isn’t that Kyle Hendricks’s 3.03 ERA or 1.19 WHIP aren’t good. They are. But there is just something less imposing about the Cubs when he is their number one starter. Perhaps that is me clinging to old perception, but without Lester and Arrieta the HAMMERS they were in the previous two years, this Cubs team feels a little outmatched against Washington.
Of course, the Nationals have brought good teams into October before, only to leave unceremoniously, and often amidst shrapnel being blown up by their bullpen. I think the moves to fortify the long-agonizing weakness will finally pay dividends this season. I’ve been on record with the Nats winning the NL pennant for a while, so I won’t back off now. They have a big edge with Strasburg on the mound tonight, and ASSUMING Scherzer is ready to go soon, they have an excellent chance of defeating the reigning champs.
Strasburg caught fire late in the season to finish with some of his career-best numbers. A 2.52 ERA, a WHIP of just 1.02 and an opponent batting average of just .204. All that while fanning 204 batters in 175.1 innings against just 44 walks. He has the stuff to dominate, and I like him to do just that tonight.
Strasburg did allow a single run in six of his last starts since returning from injury. He might give up a little tonight, but I think he gets the win in a pivotal Game One.
Today’s MLB Pick: WASHINGTON NATIONALS TO WIN -160