Thanks to some exaggerated drama that gave way to a performance for the ages from Stephen Strasburg, we will be treated to a second straight do-or-die Game Five this evening. Thanks to the rain out, the travel off day is eliminated, and we will get right back to business tonight in Washington. The Nats have the homefield advantage, but the Cubs have Kyle Hendricks on the mound, on full rest, looking to repeat his masterful performance of Game One. Hendricks completely befuddled the Nats bats in D.C. in a Game One shutout victory. Can he replicate the magic tonight when the Cubbies need it the most?
The Cleveland Indians seemed the more-likely half of the World Series rematch. Their 2-0 lead is ancient history and the Tribe is already on the golf course. Will the Cubs join them tonight, or can their penchant for the dramatic continue in 2017??
Today’s MLB Pick:
NLDS Game Five – Series Tied 2-2
Chicago Cubs -110 at Washington Nationals +100 (Total: 7.5)
Kyle Hendricks vs Undetermined
Ok, so, first of all, it is weird to pick a game without a listed starting pitcher. It is even weirder to have a LINE on a game without a listed starting pitcher. The reason WHY these two conditions exist is the notion that, tonight, in Game Five, it DOESN’T MATTER who is listed. Everyone, except Stras, is available, including a likely appearance from Max Scherzer. That neutralizes the edge of Hendricks vs “unknown” and keeps this line pretty flat.
My supposition is that Gio gets the ball with Scherzer waiting on a quick hook. That’s a pretty formidable duo as both finished the regular season with ERA’s under three. Both teams have pitching to spare, though the Cubs bullpen has been the one showing some vulnerability as opposed to the previously well-earned reputation of the Nats disastrous relief corps. Both losses this series can be pinned on the Chicago bullie.
It comes down to the bats. Who can get the big hit and make the big play. Dusty Baker’s history haunts him, and don’t think I haven’t considered that he is 0-9 in his last nine series closeout games. Insane. And a MLB record for misery and futility. But can a manager REALLY prevent the Nats from success tonight? It feels a little overstated. Certainly, Dusty has made some questionable maneuvers in his past, but I don’t think he will be the undoing tonight. Some of it is perception. Maddon, the genius, pulled his pitcher in the middle of an bat on a 2-1 count. Wade Davis promptly allowed an all-but game ending grand slam. Every manager is an idiot/genius until the precise moment they aren’t.
I’ll overlook some damning history on Dusty and take the team with the slightly better pitching depth – assuming Scherzer is available, a la Jon Lester yesterday, and the home field.
Today’s MLB Pick: WASHINGTON NATIONALS TO WIN +100