We cashed an easy winner last night with the dazzling pitching display that dominated the opening game of the NLDS in Wrigley. Johnny Cueto was incredible. He had only allowed single hit until the sixth inning and didn’t allow a single run until a towering, lofty, just-fair solo homerun in the bottom of the eighth – and took the loss. Because Jon Lester and Aroldis Chapman were even better, slamming the door on the Giants to win a classic 1-0 thriller.
The two will get back out it tonight and while the Giants will have to weather the three days before they can get back to MadBum and Johnny Beisbol with Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore. The Cubs? Not such a big problem. Tonight they trot out MLB ERA leader Kyle Hendricks with Jake Arrietta waiting for Game Three at AT&T Park. Given the relative silence of the Giants bats, it is tough to see them being able to surf the wave of arms coming at them…
Meanwhile, the Nats are backs-to-the-wall today after Max Scherzer was unable to be effective enough to outduel Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. Today’s pitching matchup pits two pitchers having AMAZING seasons with little fanfare, Rich Hill and Tanner Roarke. With no Strasburg available, this game is HUGE for the Nats who can ill-afford to fall down 0-2 with a trip to LA and Clayton Kershaw waiting in Game Four…
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Today’s Free Pick:
San Francisco Giants +167 at Chicago Cubs -176 (Total: 7)
Jeff Samardzija vs. Kyle Hendricks
The possible Cy Young winner who entered the season with little fanfare facing off against the former Great Cubs hope, who three teams and two seasons later has to be objectively considered as a relatively average big league pitcher.
The names might steer you in another direction, but in truth, this pitching matchup isn’t particularly close. Hendricks is the overwhelming favorite, and that is even BEFORE you begin to factor in how much dramatically better the Cubs offense is from top to bottom. The Cubs ranked second in runs scored and tops in OBP this season. The Giants came in ninth, and most of that damage was done in the first half of the season before they fell off a second half cliff.
Hendricks had a rough final outing in a relatively meaningless game against the Reds, but prior to that he hadn’t failed to deliver a quality start since July 26th. In September, he had an ERA of 1.38, August was 1.24 and July was 1.07. He has been the BEST PITCHER in BASEBALL in the second half of the season and I expect him to be lights-out against the struggling Giant offense tonight.
Meanwhile, Samardzija had a nice final two months of the season with an ERA just under three, but his season splits were still pretty average overall. I am sure he will be extra pumped to face his former franchise, but I am not sure it will make a ton of difference. He knows the park for sure, having pitched there for years and posting a 3.97 Wrigley career ERA, but this lineup is far fiercer than most he has squared off against. I like the Cubs to be better offensively tonight and equally good from the mound and in the field. They are a pretty steep price at -176, but I like the value on the runline at juicy +125.