Free MLB Picks: Cash Your Ticket Cubs vs. Nationals

Jason Lake

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 11:00 AM UTC

Tuesday, Jun. 14, 2016 11:00 AM UTC

The 2016 Chicago Cubs might be the greatest team of all time, but they lost to the Washington Nationals on Monday. Tuesday's MLB odds are a toss-up, too. What gives?

Maybe these Washington Nationals aren't so bad after all. They fattened up on substandard competition earlier in the season, but the Nats have won 11 of their past 14 games to vault right back to the top of the NL East at 40-24 (+8.34 units). They even beat the Chicago Cubs 4-1 Monday night. Granted, they were -130 home faves, but not too many teams have gotten the better of the Cubs (43-19, +9.13 units) this year.

Maybe Chicago will have its revenge Tuesday night (7:05 p.m. ET, MLBN). Game 2 of this three-game set at Nationals Park sees Gio Gonzalez take the hill for Washington; the Nats have lost each of his last four appearances. The Cubs respond with John Lackey, who's rattled off eight straight quality starts. Yet the MLB Odds at press time have this game as a virtual toss-up. That doesn't seem right.


Love Town
It isn't. For one thing, FiveThirtyEight projects Chicago to win this matchup 55 percent of the time, which works out to –122 on our ever-loving SBR Betting Odds Converter. For another thing, Lackey (2.98 FIP) has allowed a combined .685 OPS to Washington batters, compared to .714 OPS for Gonzalez (3.46 FIP) versus Chicago's current lineup. Looks like a classic case of the betting public overvaluing Washington's hot streak.

Again, we have to look at the quality of competition the Nationals have faced. Those 11 victories include a pair of sweeps over the Philadelphia Phillies, one of the worst teams in the National League at –1.0 on the Simple Rating System at Baseball-Reference. Gonzalez didn't pitch in any of those six games, by the way. He's down 4.80 units this year on a team record of 5-7; Lackey has Cubs supporters up 1.22 units on a record of 8-4, including each of his last three starts. Okay, two of those were against Philadelphia. Fair enough.


Fantasy Corner
Given how much trouble Gonzalez has had over the past month or so, we'll happily recommend putting some Cubs hitting in your fantasy lineup. As always, finding someone available is the trick. No problem: OF Chris Coghlan (.501 OPS) was traded back to the Cubs last week by the Oakland A's. Coghlan had a .784 OPS for Chicago last year, and he's only owned in 1.2 percent of ESPN leagues at press time. Getting away from Oakland can only help Coghlan (.182 BABIP) at the plate.

Meanwhile, we're definitely putting the Cubs in our MLB Picks. They're head-and-shoulders above the rest of the baseball world at +2.4 SRS, with an incredible +159 run differential. That's 80 runs more than Washington. Chicago's Pythagorean record is 49-13, and we haven't even gotten into quality of opposition. Let's root, root root for the Cubbies, and may the sphere be with you.

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Free MLB Pick: Cubs -102
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker
Record: 10-13 ML, 3-0 Totals (–0.01 units)

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