And then there were two.
A day of delicious pitching matchups and four high-leverage pressure games ended with two series crowing a winner, two of the three that could be completed (Cubs/Nats was 1-1 and now the League Championship Series are halfway set.
Sadly, we can’t seem to get on the right side of the Cubs and Nats series, as the handicapping was spot on; Scherzer being dominant in his return, but even a no-hitter into the seventh inning wasn’t quite enough as the Cubs escaped with a thrilling 2-1 victory in the pivotal Game Three. We took the loss, but that was a heck of a game to watch; tense and thrilling. And they’ll get center stage tonight to go at it one more time…
The Nats are one loss away, at Wrigley Field facing Jake Arrieta no less, from yet ANOTHER misery in the Beltway. Can they stave off elimination and get the series back home for a Game Five? Or will the defending champs chop down their first obstacle on their road to a repeat?
Today’s MLB Pick:
Washington Nationals +140 at Chicago Cubs -150 (Total: 7.5)
Tanner Roark (13-11, 4.67 ERA) vs. Jake Arrieta (14-10, 3.54 ERA)
Tanner Roark is in a tough spot today. A fourth starter with an ERA near five only being asked to “save the season and the wavering faith of the city.” No big deal, right?
Opposing him is a guy who has been in some big spots before, former Cy Young winner, Jake Arrieta. Arrieta had a down year, by his recent lofty standards, but closed strong, posting a 2.25 ERA in July and a 1.21 ERA in August, before closing things down a bit and barely pitching in September. Will the Cubs get the July/August Arrieta? If so, this series should be over.
I want to be wrong. I want a Game Five. But sentimentality rarely makes for wise wagering, and it is hard to bet Roark against Arrieta and the Cubs today. Roark enters with an ERA near five and the Nats have lost four of his last six starts. Expecting magic today is optimistic at best. It will likely be all-hands on deck from a pitching standpoint, so don’t be surprised to see anyone other than Scherzer take the mound – even Strasburg. But if the Cubs can get two or three off Roarke, it might be all they need. Arrieta certainly has BIG GAME potential, and I think he will get the job done tonight.
The game is early; 5:38pm EST on TBS, so if you are interested in wagering or watching, make sure you get there early.
For Nats fans clinging to hope, Roark is 4-2 in seven career starts against the Cubs and is 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA against Chicago this season. But the Nats, who have scored just seven runs in this series, are going to have to give him a little more to extend their season. I think they come up a run or two short.
Today’s MLB Pick: CHICAGO CUBS TO WIN -150