Nationals @ Cubs NLDS Game 4 Free Pick


The Cubs didn’t do much against Max Scherzer in a pivotal Game 3 on Monday afternoon, but they got him out of the game and then took advantage of the Nationals’ bullpen to win 2–1.

Kyle Schwarber‘s error in the sixth inning led to the first run of the game after Jose Quintana and Scherzer went back and forth exchanging zeros for the first five. Schwarber dropped a slicing fly ball off the bat of Daniel Murphy and bobbled it once it touched down in left field. Murphy ended up at third and scored on Ryan Zimmermann’s two-out double.

Scherzer retired the top of the Cubs’ lineup, which had to record a hit. He got Willson Contreras to lead off the seventh but Dusty Baker pulled him out of the game after Ben Zobrist‘s one-out double broke up the no-no. Scherzer had thrown 98 pitches.

Wouldn’t you know, Sammy Solis gave it up to the first batter he faced when Albert Almora Jr. delivered an RBI single. It would go to the eighth tied 1–1 when when Baker again made a move to the bullpen, electing to pitch to Anthony Rizzo with two outs and a just runner on second. Rizzo singled home the winning run against Oliver Perez. Wade Davis slammed the door in the ninth for his second save of the season.

Chicago has a chance to finish the series at home, which must sound quite a bit more appealing than going back to Washington to face Stephen Strasburg in a winner-take-all Game 5.

Free Pick

Both teams will use a fourth starter in Game 4, the Nationals Tanner Roark and the Cubs Jake Arrieta.

Both have seen better days. Roark struggled this season after winning 16 games and posting a 2.83 ERA in 2016. He did improve in the second half, though, and finished with a 4.67 ERA overall. Arrieta, like Jon Lester, took the sort of step back in 2017 that suggests he is over the hill, just barely but over, nonetheless.

The starting pitchers were dominant on Monday but I suspect at least one starter, if not both, will struggle a bit on Tuesday. Roark historically has trouble in the first inning, and with his pitch count in general. After what the Cubs did to the Nationals’ bullpen on Monday, they would have to feel good about four or five innings against the relief corps on Tuesday. Arrieta hasn’t pitched since September 26 because of a hamstring injury that he claims to be a nonexistent now. Maybe it is; but maybe it isn’t. Either way, it might not necessarily be easy for him to make his first start in two weeks. That uncertainty equals offensive possibility for Washington.

Both sides should score four. I’ve got Washington at a hard 4.0 and Chicago closer to 4.5. Yet, the total in this one is 7.5. This game will be fierce; and as soon as one team puts a few runs on the board it will get things going quickly. Neither bullpen is equipped for a staring contest.

Free Pick: Over 7.5 (-120)

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