Last Updated: 2017-10-07
The Cubs and Nationals face each other for the 2nd game of their NLDS encounter. Expect the better seeded squad to defend its home turf before action proceeds to Illinois.
Jon Lester is being fielded as the starting pitcher of Chicago. He is 13-8 with a 4.33 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, having almost as many SO as IP this season, completing 180 strikeouts in 180.2 innings. In his career, Lester is 2-1 in 6 starts, compiling a 2.79 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 11.4 SO9, having only allowed a single HR as well as a .218 BA. This year, he went 12.2 innings in 2 games against the Nationals, allowing a total 9 hits, 4 runs, and 4 walks, while completing 14 K for a 2.84 ERA. In the postseason, the lefty has played 22 games, going 9-7, throwing 133.2 IP, accumulating 117 SO and a 2.63 ERA. Among active players, only teammate John Lackey has accumulated more postseasons innings than this match’s starter. This would be the 1st time he would go up against Washington in the playoffs. The 33-year old went 5-6 in September, registering 8 winning decisions in the 2nd half of the season, a turnaround after allowing 9 earned runs in his last 2 starts before the All-Star break.
Gio González is expected to get the nod for the Nats. He is 15-9 with a 2.96 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 32 starts this year, completing 188 SO in 201 IP. In his lifetime, González has gone opposite the Cubs in 10 occasions, all of them starts, going 3-3 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. In 2017, he lost his only appearance against the reigning World Series victors, 4-5, on June 26 despite a solid outing of 2 hits allowed, 1 earned run, and 8 K, although he gave up 5 walks. The 2-time All-Star has had 4 starts in NLDS encounters, accumulating 15 SO in 18.1 IP, which translates to a 3.93 ERA.
The contest at Nationals Park will commence at 5:30 PM EST and can be seen live on ESPN.
Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals
Moneyline: Chicago Cubs +115, Washington Nationals -125 at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Total: Over 8 (-120), Under 8 (+100)
The Cubs do not have the best numbers in the NL, whether it is batting or pitching. They are also the only 8th among the 15 teams in their league in fielding percentage. This means that they are doing something effective that is not showing in the stats. Either that or their averages and totals got pulled down by their slow start before they turned it around in the 2nd half of the year. Looking at their splits, they limited themselves to only 25 losses post-All-Star break, letting through 296 opponent runs after conceding 399 in the 1st 3 and a half months of the season.
The team has 2 batters that nearly finished with a .300 BA: Jon Jay (.296 BA) and Kris Bryant (.295 BA). 5 more (Wilson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez, Jason Heyward, Ian Happ) have a BA that is above .250 for the season. As a whole, the Cubs are tops in the NL in OBP, as well as among the highest 3 in runs, home runs, and OPS.
As for their bullpen, Wade Davis was unmoving, notching 32 saves in 59 games and 56 finishes, putting up a 4-2 record along with a 2.30 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and a 12.1 SO9. He does not even own the distinction of having the best strikeout rate in the pitching staff. This achievement goes to Carl Edwards, who had a 12.8 SO9, fanning 94 in 66.1 IP in 73 relief appearances. Others who have an S09 north of 10 include Héctor Rondón and midseason acquisition José Quintana.
Outside of their regular season-ending loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Nationals’ only bad month this year was in June when they went an even 14-14. They are 3rd in the NL in runs, hits, doubles, stolen bases, and BA; 2nd in OPS; and 1st in slugging percentage and total bases. Despite that, they are only 6th in triples, 7th in home runs, as well as 7th in walks. This means that they are not relying on a power game to outscore opponents and opposing pitchers recognize this.
These gaudy numbers on offense are supplemented by better-than-average pitching stats as Washington is 3rd in the NL in ERA, hits allowed, runs allowed, earned runs, walks allowed, and strikeouts. Putting all of these together, the club is efficient around the bases on offenses and its pitching staff is able to hold off the batters they go up against.
Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals Betting Trends and Prediction
In the 2 sides’ 7 meetings in the regular season, Washington had 11 more runs than the champs. In its 4 wins, 2 of them were at home, 1 of those 2 had González as the starter, as the Nats and Cubs split their 4-game set at Nationals Park. 3 of the encounters in that venue finished under.
My Pick: Washington Nationals -125
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Bonus Pick: Under 8 (+100)