The Washington Nationals put on a show in Pittsburgh for a few days. They dropped one of four games, but poured it on and dominated the hapless Pirates in the three other outings. The Nationals started with a 13-0 win in the opener, and then added wins of 11-1 and 7-1. Their one slip was a 4-1 loss, but their offense was able to respond with 18 runs for a 18-2 differential in the next 18 innings of play.
The Nationals have little time to celebrate, though, as they turn their attention to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field this weekend. It’s a big time series for both clubs, as the Nationals and Cubs are in a fight for a spot in the postseason. For the Nationals, their best-case scenario appears to be a wildcard.
The Cubs are contending for the top spot in the NL Central. They’re currently in the lead, but it’s a slim lead over the Cardinals. If the Cubs played all of their remaining games at home, then it would be good luck to St. Louis. However, that’s not how it works. The Cubs finish the regular season with six straight games on the road, including the season finale in St. Louis. The NL Central likely comes down to that series, so that’s a big advantage for the Cards.
Chicago must do well when they have opportunities at home. That’s where they’ve cashed in all season long and have to take advantage of Wrigley when they can. The Cubs are 44-19 at home going into this weekend, while they’re only 25-39 on the road. That isn’t going to work in the postseason for a team who doesn’t have homefield advantage. Jon Lester will get the call against Anibal Sanchez this afternoon at Wrigley. Head below for our free Nationals vs. Cubs pick.
Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs Pick:
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The Cubs were getting a little nervous about Jon Lester and his arm. He was not pitching like the ace of the club and injury concerns were fresh on the minds of fans after Lester was dispatched for 16 runs in 9 innings against the Cardinals and Athletics. He settled down against the Reds and then had a standout performance against the Pirates in his most recent outing to calm any nerves. Lester was dominant in that one, as he surrendered 4 hits and no earned runs across 6 innings of work.
It’s exactly what he needed to get back on track for the final push of the regular season. Now Lester must cool down a Nationals team who have been mashing the ball recently. He has been adequate against the Nationals in the past, as they’re hitting .274 in 233 at-bats. On the other side, Anibal Sanchez is coming into Wrigley Field feeling cold. He got rocked against the Brewers for 8 hits and 5 earned runs in 4 innings. In his last three outings, Sanchez posted an ERA of 5.40 and 1.67 WHIP.
The Nationals were on fire in Pittsburgh and I cashed in a couple of tickets on them against the Pirates. However, this is a much bigger chore against the Cubs in a hostile environment. And don’t forget that the Cubs are playing really good ball right now as well. The Cubs are 4-0 in their last four games, which included a two-game sweep of the Giants.
Their most recent win was a wild one, as they outlasted the Giants by a score of 12-11. Note that the Nats are only 33-31 on the road, while the Cubs are 44-19 at home. It should be a good afternoon matchup between the Nationals and Cubs, with the home team edging out the visitors here.