The heavily hyped pitching duel between Clayton Kershaw and Jon Lester certainly didn’t live up to the billing, with neither making it out of the fourth inning and the pair combining for ten earned runs, but at least we got a win in the process. We had the Dodgers as pretty sizab;e favorites, but at least they didn’t make us sweat in a 9-4 series sweep clinching victory. The win pushed the Cubs back down to just a half game over .500, tied with the Cardinals and a game and a half behind the Brewers. They are just one game ahead of the surprising Reds, whom they led by 17 ½ games at the same point in the 2016 season.
Because it became fashionable to write “be worried about the Cubs stories” two weeks ago, now it is fashionable to write the “be patient, everything is fine” stories about them; such is the swinging pendulum of public perception. Personally, “worried” might be a bit dramatic, but automatically assuming they will win the Central now feels a little over-confident. IF Jake Arrieta really is no longer the guy he was from 2014-2016 (first half), they are no longer even close to the best pitching staff in the National League (compare them to LA and Washington) – that alone makes the 2017 Cubs really mortal and more “strong contender” than “favorite”.
Happy Memorial Day to our readers in the States! I hope you all enjoy a nice day with friends and family, and of course, MLB is doing their part to make the day more enjoyable with a nice selection of games, both day and night, for your viewing pleasure.
Today’s MLB Pick:
Los Angeles Dodgers -108 at St. Louis Cardinals -102 (Total: 8.5)
Rich Hill (1-2, 4.76 ERA) vs. Mike Leake (5-2, 1.91 ERA)
Quick, who is leading the National League in ERA as the calendar flips to June?? You get bonus points if you knew “Mike Leake” before you got to the 1.91 ERA line in this column. To say it has been a dream start to the long-time veteran (who is younger than you probably think, as he bypassed the minors completely from Arizona State) would be an understatement. Leake has been a solid MLB guy for close to a decade, but never even a #1 (or #2) starter, let alone an All Star and Cy Young candidate.
Can it continue? Well, he will have his work cut out for him this afternoon. Vegas isn’t emotional, and they have Leake and the Cardinals as UNDERDOGS at HOME, despite Leake facing off against Rich Hill and his near-five ERA. That tells me Vegas ain’t sold on Leake, but I am not sure that means we should also run away.
Rich Hill has been average at best so far this season after his 2016 season that is eerily similar to this year from Leake; an out-of-this-world year from a longtime good, but not great, pitcher. This year could be some of the regression to the mean. He has been hit often in 2017, and I think the Cardinals will be able to give Leake some run support today.
St. Louis is just too good of a value to ignore at the current line and with the performance of Mike Leake thus far in 2017. Will he level off at some point? Probably. But why fight two months of consistency. He has a 2.57 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in May and is fresh off an eight-inning, one-run outing.
Today’s MLB Pick: ST. LOUIS CARDINALS TO WIN +102