Cubs vs. Reds Pick MLB – October 2nd

It all comes down to this.  The Mets clinched their spot yesterday, so just one final spot is up for grabs on the final day of the MLB regular season.  For the Giants, it is simple.  Thanks to one of the most remarkable performances I have seen this season, the Giants simply need to WIN today and they will be in New York on Wednesday night to fight for a chance to face the vaunted Cubs in the Divisional Round.  It would set up the very likely possibility of a Syndergaard/Bumgarner showdown.

The reason the Giants are in the driver’s seat is because rookie Ty Blanch nearly doubled his career innings total yesterday by throwing eight innings of three-hit, shutout baseball, outdueling none other than Clayton Kershaw (who only allowed a single run) with the Giants season squarely on the line.  Simply REMARKABLE performance.  Unreal.

The ball goes to Matt Moore today with a chance to send the Giants to the postseason.  Should he stumble, the Cardinals can tie things up if Adam Wainwright can summon the echoes of 2013 and handle his business on the mound against the Pirates.  Should the Cards and Giants end up tied at the end of today, they will meet tomorrow in Busch Stadium for the right to face New York in ANOTHER one-game playoff to meet the Cubs.

Just a reminder, all games start at 3:05 EST to avoid any teams not playing the max effort and scoreboard watching in a move that mirrors recent NFL scheduling (and long time soccer scheduling)  For all intents and purposes, the playoffs start NOW.  Gotta LOVE October!

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Today’s Free Pick:

Chicago Cubs -230 at Cincinnati Reds +210 (Total: 8.5)

Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 1.99 ERA) vs. Robert Stevenson (2-3, 6.27 ERA)

I whiffed on the Cubs yesterday, figuring Maddon would let Lester go out and try to nab his 20th win and make a late Cy Young push.  Well, he did.  Lester just failed to hold up his end of the bargain, allowing five runs in just five innings, taking the loss and ballooning the ERA a little bit.  Today, it looks like Hendricks will get the same chance to bolster his Cy Young credentials.  Let’s see if he will make better use of the opportunity.

I imagine he will.  Most of what I am reading has the Cy Young vote all over the map.  I’ve seen cases for Lester, Scherzer, and Bumgarner.  But I still feel like it is Hendricks award to lose, and there is next to no time to lose it.  The voters might not WANT to give it to Hendricks given his lack of dominating stats like strikeouts and he low profile compared to the other top contenders, but if he can finish up the season with an ERA under 2.00, it seems very difficult to ignore the most relevant pitching statistic.  If he gets shelled today, there might be some wiggle room if the ERA creeps up to 2.20 or so.

I don’t think it will happen.  The Cubs stumbled yesterday, but look for them to finish up strong today.  Stevenson enters with an ERA well over 6, Hendricks is under two.  The Cubs lost yesterday, but are still 14-4 against the Reds this season.  Look at yesterday as an aberration from the norm, and today we regress to the inevitable mean.

Free Pick:  Chicago Cubs RUNLINE -1.5 (-135)