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Willie Bee

Monday, April 10, 2017 2:58 PM UTC

Monday, Apr. 10, 2017 2:58 PM UTC

Six months removed from their NLCS battle, the Cubs and Dodgers collide again Monday at Wrigley Field, where Chicago, in its home opener, is favored on the MLB odds behind ace Jon Lester.

MLB Season Record: 0-6 (-6.42)

For the 42,000 and change lucky enough to be inside the friendly confines Monday, they'll get to witness something that hasn't happened in more than 100 years as the Chicago Cubs raise a World Series banner. For the 75+ players and coaches and scouts and front office personnel, etc., and the millions more watching the 8 PM (ET) broadcast on ESPN, it will be a chance to relive last year's NLCS and a possible preview of a playoff series this October with the Los Angeles Dodgers in town.

Chicago's home opener finds a pair of southpaws on the bump, Alex Wood for LA opposite the Cubs' Jon Lester. 5Dimes started Chicago -160, that price dropping to -155 overnight, and as usual for a Cubs home game, no total is available early.


Lester Working On Extra Rest

Wood is making this start after Rich Hill was scratched due to a blister he incurred vs. the Padres last week. That same game saw Wood come out of the bullpen with two innings of scoreless relief, and serving as the swingman on Dave Roberts' staff is something the former Georgia Bulldog got used to last year. This will be his third career start at Wrigley, along with one relief appearance, and Wood is 0-1 lifetime there with a 4.90 ERA.

Lester has enjoyed a little extra rest since starting the Cubs' season opener at St. Louis on April 2, the Cubs slight road favorites on the MLB odds in that one. The veteran worked five innings and allowed one run in a 4-3 loss decided in the final frame. He helped pitch Chicago to two wins over LA in last year's NLCS and after allowing just one run in 15 combined innings of two regular-season starts vs. the Dodgers. Since joining the Cubs, Lester's 17-11 in 35 Wrigley starts with a 2.75 ERA.


Series Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick

For a series that started in 1890, this one's about as close as possible with the Dodgers owning a 1,045-1,034 regular-season advantage. Los Angeles has taken that slight lead by winning 64 of the 114 games played this millennium and 34 of 60 at Wrigley. The Cubs did win the season series last year, however, by taking four of seven and, of course, the NLCS four games to two. Three of the four in Chicago last season stayed 'under' the total, including both games involving Lester and Wood as starters.

Now, if we can just get the weather to cooperate. The forecast is calling for late-afternoon thunderstorms that taper off by game time, though a chance for rain continues into the evening. Damp, humid and cool with a first pitch temp around 50º might be the best-case scenario, along with a NNW breeze in the 8-10 mph range (LF to RF corner).

My free baseball picks have quickly become the hottest fade ticket in town after nary a winner last week. Let's see if we can't reverse that this week and start things with a run line play on Chicago. Los Angeles struggled against lefties last season, and especially against Lester, who will have the Wrigley crowd energy behind him this evening.

MLB Free Pick: Cubs -1.5 On RunlineBest Line Offered: Pinnacle

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