It didn’t take long for people to start whining about something the playoffs. When the Cubs take down the 98-win Pirates in the Wild Card game had Pittsburgh homers indignant at the thought of the team with the second-best record in baseball eliminated after one playoff game. And now Chicago is another Jake Arrieta win away from putting St. Louis fans on the brink of a similar protest. Maybe the seemingly required grumbling is blinded from Chicago’s own 97 wins and the thought that prior to this whole play-in scenario that the Cubbies wouldn’t have even had a shot in October. Or that Joe Maddon has his Southside squad playing as well as anyone at the right time.
Though they aren’t anything alike, Jake Arrieta’s performance down the stretch and against the Pirates in the Wild Card game have people’s memories fixated on what Madison Bumgarner did last year, as if it happens every season. But what Bumgarner did was a step below unprecedented and Arrieta has been priced nearly accordingly.
The Cubs are somewhere in the range of 1-to-4 in a huge Game 3 at Wrigley Field and I just can’t pass up the Cardinals at better than +200. Looking beyond their league’s best record and top seed, the Cardinals gave Arrieta some friction in their matchups this season. They collected 9 base runners in 6 innings against him on July 9 and hit him for 4 earned in 5 innings back in May. I’m also turning a blind eye to two pretty darn good starts but what’s important here is the potential. If there’s any team that can push back, it’s the Cardinals. They’ll play for a run or two and hope they get that good stuff out of Michael Wacha.
Wacha is the other reason I think it’s worthwhile to take a shot at the big moneyline tonight. He struggled down the stretch but Wacha didn’t take long to announce his big game presence. When it comes to coming up with just one more good outing, Wacha is St. Louis’ guy. Remember that the Cubs were shutout in Game 1 and if Wacha has the good heater tonight, Chicago will struggle to score in its first playoff game at home. Such has the tendency to lock a team up or break it loose. If the home crowd elicits more nerves than anything else, the big money could hit.
Free Pick: Cardinals +215
YTD: 27-22-5 -0.06
2014: 45-28-3 +9.02