Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals NLDS Game 5

Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez

Mark Lathrop

Thursday, October 12, 2017 12:26 PM UTC

Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017 12:26 PM UTC

Coming off of a shutout ATS win and looking forward to Game 5, our MLB handicapper looks to an advantageous line for value as he makes his Thursday MLB Pick of the Day.

Cubs vs. Nationals

A pitching change yesterday, and a wager with listed pitcher terms saved me from taking a loss and instead gained me a unit as I was able to change my Pick of the Day. Kudos to Ariana at the SBR offices for blowing up my phone while I was sitting in a board meeting and letting me know about the change. That win has forced a Game 5 in this series back in Washington, with the winner set to face the Dodgers in the National League Championship series.

With Stephen Strasburg being bumped up a day and pitching seven innings of shutout baseball in Game 4, the Nationals now turn to Gio Gonzalez to take the mound in Game 5. Gonzalez has had a great season in ERA terms, putting up nearly career-best 2.96 mark. But he has also been on the radar of xFIP fade lists, as he carries a 4.24 FIP on the year, which is much higher than his ERA and suggests a negative regression is near. Those trends would likely play out if given the time; however, this is a one-game matchup and we need to focus on the specific roster Gonzalez will be facing. In this regard, he has an advantageous split against left-handers and limits them to a .181 BAA on the year. The home run he gave up in Game 2 of this series to Anthony Rizzo reeks of luck, as it was just the 3rd dinger he had given up to a lefty on the season. In late June, Gonzalez pitched well against the Cubs at home while giving up just one solo shot and earned run over six innings pitched. That solo home run was to righty Willson Contreras, who also took Gonzalez deep in game 2.

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Gonzalez has good numbers under pressure on the season with a 2.34 FIP in high leverage situations and a 2.64 FIP with men in scoring position.

Pitching for the Cubs will be Ryan Hendricks who will face the Nationals for the third time this year. The second time was, of course, the gem he twirled in Game 1 of this series, a 7-inning, 2-hit, shutout performance. The first was a game in June in which he gave up two dingers to Daniel Murphy. Speaking of dingers, Hendricks has the highest HR/FB% in his career at 14.8% this season.

With this looking to be a high leverage game with runs at a minimum, I like the fact that I can get the home team on the underdog run line here. The Nationals bullpen had a bad reputation over the year, but they’ve turned it around when it counts and are ranked 7th overall in the MLB over the last 30 days. The Cubs, on the other hand, are ranked 8th in that timeframe and burned 5 relievers last night. It’s a bit chalky, but I will take the Nationals at -155 +1.5 on the run line at 5Dimes as my Thursday MLB Pick.

Free MLB Picks: Washington Nationals +1.5 (-155)
Line Moving - Best Lines now -165 at Bookmaker 

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2017 MLB Record, 219-195-11, +9.39 units

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