The Chicago Cubs are favored at home on Saturday night as they host the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on FS1. The Dodgers found a way to win against the Washington Nationals in the NLDS but their pitching staff is weary coming into this series while the Cubs are rested and ready. The Dodgers are expected to go with Kenta Maeda in Game 1 while the Cubs send Jon Lester. Let’s look at the contest and MLB picks.
Chicago Cubs -160
Probable Pitching Matchup – Maeda vs. Lester
Maeda lasted only three innings in Game 3 of the NLDS as he gave up five hits and four earned runs. This will be the first time Maeda will be facing the Cubs in his career.
The Dodgers enter this series as a big underdog but the team seems to thrive in that role. "With what we've been going through all year, we've been the underdog all year," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "So we've been counted out by people, but that's OK. We're going to go out there and try to win baseball games."
Lester threw eight shutout innings in the NLDS Game 1 against the Giants. Lester was 19-5 in the regular season with a 2.44 ERA. He is well aware of the past history of the Cubs but isn’t worried about it heading into this series.
"I think the biggest thing is nobody really cares in there about a curse or a goat or anything else," said Lester, "If we make a mistake, we're not going to blame it on a curse or anything else like that.”
Dodgers vs. Cubs Notes
The Cubs took four of the seven meetings against the Dodgers in the regular season, outscoring the Dodgers 19-16. The Dodgers were shutout twice in those seven games. The problem for the Dodgers is that they don’t hit left-handed pitching and they would get Lester twice if this series goes at least five games. The Dodgers were last in the league with a .214 batting average against lefties.
The Dodgers are 4-1 in their last 5 vs. the National League Central. The Dodgers are 3-7 in their last 10 road games. The Dodgers are 4-11 in their last 15 playoff road games. The Dodgers are 1-10 in their last 11 road games vs. a left-handed starter.
The Cubs are 4-1 in their last 5 vs. the National League West. The Cubs are 55-22 in their last 77 home games. The Cubs are 0-7 in their last 7 League Championship games. The Cubs are 23-7 in Lester’s last 30 starts. The Cubs are 19-7 in Lester’s last 26 home starts.
The Over is 4-1 in the Dodgers last 5 games vs. a left-handed starter. The Over is 6-2-2 in the Dodgers last 10 road games. The Under is 42-19-3 in the Cubs last 64 home games. The Under is 10-1 in Lester’s last 11 starts overall. The Under is 4-0 in Lester’s last 4 starts vs. the Dodgers. The Under is 7-1 in the last 8 meetings in Chicago.
The Dodgers are simply awful against left-handers and the Cubs have been excellent at home this season so I will take Chicago to win Game 1.