In a season where we prided ourselves on winning lots of underdog bets, it is fitting that we closed out the season last night with yet another underdog winner. We backed the Washington Nationals as road underdogs against the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies had everything to play for as they had the opportunity to lock down their division title with a win, but something told me that Jon Gray just wasn’t ready to pitch in such a high-stress game, and I decided to look to fade him.
And I was right. Gray just wasn’t ready for prime time yet as he got hammered. Gray got beat up for five runs in just two innings of work, and the Rockies went on to get blown out 12-2. I liked Nationals starter Steven Strasburg in this one as he was finally healthy after battling injuries all season long and I was certain he wanted to prove to the world he could pitch well in a game that mattered, and he did just that.
Strasburg pitched six innings and allowed just two runs on five hits and coasted to the easy win with all the early game run support. It was a devastating loss for the Rockies as they now fall into a tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the National League West Division lead, heading into the season’s final game. I am loving all this late-season drama and will stay right in the thick of the race as I break down the game between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.
The Chicago Cubs will host the St. Louis Cardinals today in game 162 from Wrigley Field. The Cubs are tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for the National League Central Division title with just one game to go. The Cardinals who were just recently knocked out of wild-card contention in this series, would love nothing more than to play spoiler to their hated rivals, the Cubs.
Starting today for the Cubs is Mike Montgomery (5-6), and for the Cardinals, it is Jack Flaherty (8-8 3.16 ERA). The Cubs are -140 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 12:20 PM PST from Wrigley Field in Chicago.
What a game we have in store this afternoon! The Cubs are looking to lock down the division title, and the Cards are hoping to knock them into the wild-card, as revenge for the Cubs knocking them out of the playoffs altogether earlier in this series. Two teams that hate each other’s guts with a lot at stake, this is what baseball is all about!
The Cubs will look to Mike Montgomery today to lead them to the promise land. Montgomery has been mostly good this season working both out of the bullpen and in the starting rotation for Chicago. He did get banged up in his last start though as he gave up five runs, all earned against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs have kept Montgomery on a tight leash down the stretch as he has pitched just four innings in three of his four September starts.
I would expect the same from the Cubs tonight. If Montgomery looks shaky, I see them making a quick move to the bullpen as they just can’t afford to lose today.
St. Louis will start Jack Flaherty tonight trying to play spoiler. Flaherty has been mostly good this season but has slipped up as of late. Flaherty had an ERA of 2.87 on the season heading into September, but the wheels have fallen off for him this month. In September, Flaherty is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA, but more importantly, the Cardinals have lost all five of his starts. As the Cardinals season ends, with being possibly just one game out of the playoffs when all is said and done, you have to wonder how they would have finished if Flaherty had been at his best when it mattered the most.
To me, this is playoff baseball. I know the Cardinals are technically out of the mix, but you can be certain they are going to be playing just as hard as the Cubs in this one. So, this isn’t one of those games where one team is just going to lay down. But something about this game tells me that Chicago is going to find a way to get the job done.
This feels like a game seven where the home team will just figure things out. I am not even sure exactly how it will play out. But I feel when all the smoke clears, the Chicago Cubs will have won this game. They will be scoreboard watching as the Milwaukee Brewers have a seemingly much easier matchup with the Detroit Tigers, and if both teams win, they will play a one-game playoff to decide who wins the division. I think both teams win, and we get that one game playoff. And for that to happen, the Cubs have to take care of business in this one. Give me the Chicago Cubs as small home favorites today in game 162 at -140!