If you love baseball, today’s a pretty good day to call in sick to work.
Thanks to some homerun heroics from Andrew Bird and a pitching GEM from Tanaka, we have a full slate of four games commencing at 1pm EST and going well into the early morning on the East Coast. And thanks to some Bryce Harper/Ryan Zimmerman eighth inning magic, we have a few games that REALLY mean something today. The 4pm marquee game between the Cubs and Nationals from Wrigley is the only of the four series to have drawn level, making this Game Three the most pivotal game of the 2017 Postseason to date.
Not that the other three games are slouches. The Red Sox, Yankees and Diamondbacks will try to stave off elimination, all at home, and all with stud pitchers on the mound (including two former Cy Young winners). There’s a good chance we will have more than a few games in the Divisional Round today, and at least one Game Five…
For now, let’s take a look at the biggest game of the day, the pivotal Game Three between the reigning Cy Young winner and the Defending World Champs. Man, just that sentence gets me amped up…
Today’s MLB Pick:
National League Division Series – Game Three
Washington Nationals -110 at Chicago Cubs +100 (Total: 7.5)
Max Scherzer (16-6, 2.51 ERA) vs. Jose Quintana (11-11, 4.15 ERA)
The Cubs acquired Jose Quintana for exactly this reason; to give them an edge in the starting pitching matchup of Game Three of the NLDS. Suffice it to say, they probably didn’t envision his counterpart being Max Scherzer. That Game Three advantage? Out the window.
Scherzer was pushed back to Game Three due to a hamstring tweak and will be making his first appearance since Sept 29th. According to him directly, he is good to go and he will be completely ready to pitch in this HUGE game in Wrigley. If he IS fully healthy, there aren’t many people on Earth the Nats would rather have on the mound. He led the National League in WHIP with a 0.90 WHIP this season, was second in ERA with his 2.51 mark and led the league with 268 strikeouts. His opponent’s batting average against of .178 is just flat-out ridiculous. Anytime he is on the mound, and is RIGHT, the Nats have the edge.
So, is he right today??? I am going to take him and the club at their word, but some caution around the veracity of their statements makes today a conservative play as opposed to an aggressive wager. I’d advise play this one relatively cool…
Meanwhile, Jose Quintana has great stuff, but is just 11-11 on the season and his 4.15 ERA is average at best. Batters are hitting .238 off him, and the Nationals’ bats just might have finally reawakened after their dramatic eight-inning onslaught in Game Two. However, the Cubs have won SIX STRAIGHT games Quintana has started, but there is some slight misleading nature to that stat. He was good in four of the five outings (GREAT in two) but wasn’t totally dominant in his other three. He got some nice run support when needed. His overall September ERA was 2.45, but there were two spotty starts in the mix.
I expect this game to be tense, but if I can get Scherzer at near even money, I have to take it. I’ll ride with a rested two-time Cy Young winner versus a pitcher making his long-awaited postseason debut.
Today’s MLB Pick: WASHINGTON NATIONALS TO WIN -110