What is it with Clayton Kershaw in the seventh inning in October?? It turned out to not matter, as the Dodgers won relatively easily in Game One, 9-5 over Arizona, but there has to be at least a little concern that once again Kershaw was not “Kershaw” in the postseason. He allowed a whopping FOUR homeruns (all solo shots, thankfully) in the win, but if the Dodgers are going to win a World Series, they are going to need better performances.
In the other NL game, perhaps I owe an embarrassing mea culpa to Kyle Hendricks. I felt really good about my pick yesterday, Strasburg over Hendricks, only to watch Hendricks – my alleged weak link – throw a two-hit shutout and helping the Cubs surprisingly wrest control in the series from the Nationals. It’s crazy how quickly a MLB postseason series can shift momentum; two days ago, the Nationals had a big edge with Strasburg over Hendricks in Game One and Scherzer resting and waiting in the wings to deliver a knock out blow in Game Two/Three, and now? The Cubs have a 1-0 lead and IF Scherzer ISN’T 100%, the Nats are suddenly once again in danger of an early demise…
Let’s see if we can make like the Cubbies and fly the W flag today…
Today’s MLB Pick:
NLDS – GAME TWO
Chicago Cubs +120 at Washington Nationals -130 (Total: 7.5)
Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 2.96 ERA)
Ok Nats. You entered the series with three starting pitchers with season ERA’s under 3. One has lost. This one better not or yet another season is likely to end in miserable disappointment.
On paper, the Nats once again have a big edge. Jon Lester’s name is bigger than his 2017 performance, as his 4.33 ERA and 1.32 ERA are really pedestrian. His .259 batting average against is below average, and should portend some troubles with a potent and desperate Nationals offense ready to snap out of their funk.
However, four of Lester’s last five starters were solid. The seven earned runs in four innings mishap against Tampa Bay was a low point, but the other four starts saw just three earned runs in a combined 23 innings. That’s pretty solid stuff. He is also missing a few more bats of late. He fanned batters in those 23 innings (though the 10 walks isn’t thrilling)
Meanwhile, Gio has really scuffled of late. He has allowed 16 earned runs in his last four starts, spanning just 21 innings. He struck out 25 batters but also walked 10, and the Nats lost three of his last four starts and four of six overall. This is not the clear edge that the season stats might indicate.
The value tonight is on Chicago. The Nats NEED the win more, but we all know that doesn’t tend to matter in baseball the way it might in football and basketball. I’ll take the advantageous moneyline and the awesome postseason pedigree of Lester and go with the underdog Cubs.
Today’s MLB Pick: CHICAGO CUBS TO WIN +120