Cubs Will Head Back to Wrigley With 2-0 Lead vs. Nationals

CH Cubs players greeting the public

Willie Bee

Saturday, October 7, 2017 12:46 PM GMT

Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 12:46 PM GMT

Jon Lester will be the underdog on the MLB odds when he makes his 20th postseason start in Game 2 of the NLDS between the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals.

CH Cubs vs Washington Nationals

Will the NLDS between the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals be the one playoff matchup that produces fine pitching from both sides? That was certainly the case in Friday’s series opener, and a double-southpaw pairing on Saturday could be just as good with Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33) and Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 2.96) going at each other in the 5:30 PM (ET) start at Nationals Park. BetOnline is carrying Washington at -125 with 8 for the total.

Kyle Hendricks and Stephen Strasburg dueled in Game 1, with Hendricks and the Cubs coming out on top in a 3-0 decision. Hendricks allowed Chicago just two hits in his seven shutout frames while Strasburg was the victim of some poor defense to lose his shutout bid in the sixth. The final marked the sixth ‘under’ winner in the last eight games between the clubs in DC.

 

Cubs’ Rizzo Has Never Faced Gonzalez

Lester saved some of his best work of 2017 for the final week, winning both starts at the Cardinals and home against the Reds while allowing just one run in 11 innings. The 12-year veteran got plenty of support in those two games and, in fact, got a lot of support the final two months with the Cubs scoring 91 runs over his final 10 assignments. Lester no-decisioned in his appearance at Nationals Park this season, a Chicago victory, his only start on this mound since joining the Cubs before the 2015 season.

Gonzalez faded a bit down the stretch, the Nationals losing three of his final four starts while the 32-year-old recorded a 6.75 ERA. He pitched well enough to beat the Cubs when they came to DC back in late-June but received no support as -150 chalk on the MLB odds in an eventual 5-4 loss. Gonzalez is making his fifth postseason start, all with Washington, and still looking for his first playoff dubya. Chicago manager Joe Maddon has never included Anthony Rizzo on the lineup card when Gonzalez pitches, but we expect that to change in this contest.

 

Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick

Now working his 10th LDS, and 15th postseason series overall, Ron Kulpa will be behind the mask for Game 2. The St. Louis native just wrapped up his 20th season at the MLB level by going 14-17-1 O/U/P, four of his final six plate assignments skipping past the totals. Kulpa had the dish in Game 3 of last year’s NLDS in LA where the Nationals posted an 8-3 decision.

A few clouds are in the forecast along with temps still in the low-80s plus a 10-12 mph southerly breeze (out to left). More than anything else, I’m riding Washington’s history of postseason ineptness with a free baseball pick on Chicago.

 

Free MLB Pick: Cubs +116Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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Season: 85-87-4 (-1.63)

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