The Cubs will field as starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks, who is 7-5 with a 3.03 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 24 starts during the regular season, throwing 123 SO in 139 2/3 IP for a 7.9 SO9. His career numbers against Washington are: 2-2 in 5 starts, 2.67 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, allowing a .209 BA. In Hendricks’ lone face-off against the Nationals in 2017, he took a 2-4 losing decision, giving up 5 hits, 3 runs, and 2 walks, including 5 SO in 7 innings and 103 pitches of work on August 4. Since returning from a hand injury in late July, he has posted an NL-best 2.19 ERA. In postseason play, the 27-year old is 1-1 with a 2.38 ERA in 7 games played, all of them starts.
Stephen Strasburg is slated to get the nod for the Nats. He is 15-4 with a 2.52 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 28 starts this year, 1 of 3 in the active pitching staff with an SO9 above 10. Starsburg has faced CHC 5 times in his career, compiling a 1-1 record with a 2.08 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, letting through a .218 BA. In 2017, he won his lone meeting against the reigning champs, pitching for 7 IP, having 13 SO and allowing 4 hits, 2 earned runs, and a walk on June 28. In his lone playoff appearance so far, he went 5 innings against the San Francisco Giants back in 2014, taking the loss on game 1 of the NLDS, 2-3, conceding 8 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), and a walk, along with 2 K. The righty was hot after the All-Star break, posting a 0.86 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings over 10 starts.
Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals
Moneyline: Chicago Cubs +148, Washington Nationals -158
Total: Over 7 (-120) , Under 7 (+110)
The Cubs started out slow, recording a sub-.500 win-loss standing going into the midseason break. They then roared out of the gates starting the middle of July, going 14-3 in their next 17 matches, taking 1st place of NL Central for good and never looked back.
Tommy La Stella has a .300 BA, including a HR and an RBI, in 10 AB opposite Strasburg. Anthony Rizzo is only batting .154 against the Washington starter, but has 2 RBI. Others who have at least a home run or an RBI on Strasburg are: Alex Avila (1 HR, 4 RBI), Wilson Contreras (1 HR, 2 RBI), and Ben Zobrist (1 HR, 1 RBI). Reliever Uehara Kōji is sidelined with a right knee infection, and there is no timeline for his return.
As the Nationals, they have not yet won a playoff series. They would try to do it again this year. Joe Ross, Erick Fedde, Koda Glover, and Adam Eaton are out of the season with long-term injuries. Ryan Raburn and Shawn Kelley are on the 60-day disabled list and there is no update on their status for the playoffs. Stephen Drew might not be available in this series due to an abdominal strain. Brian Goodwin is being bothered by a groin injury, but is listed as active.
Among those who have more than 10 AB against Hendricks, Bryce Harper has a .308 BA, along with 1 HR and 1 RBI (13 AB); Daniel Murphy has a .231 BA with 2 HR and 3 RBI (13 AB); Adam Lind has a .188 BA and an RBI (16 AB); and Anthony Rendon has a .182 BA (11 AB). Strasburg is most familiar with Jason Heyward, who is hitting .429 against him, while also having a HR and 4 RBI.
Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals Betting Trends and Prediction
The bookies have Washington winning, and rightly so. That team is playing at home, has the better overall record, and won its 7-game head-to-head matchup against Chicago this year. However, I believe that the Cubs will have the resolve to steal this 1, if not, the 2nd game. There would be no sweep of this series either way. 4 of the 7 games they played finished under, which is reflected in the payout in the over/under.