Free MLB Picks: Scherzer Brings Value At Even Odds In Nats vs. Cubs

Mark Lathrop

Friday, May 6, 2016 12:03 PM GMT

Nationals ace Max Scherzer takes to the mound in this anticipated series with the Cubs, and our handicapper analyzes the pitching matchup and makes his MLB Pick on this exciting game.

The leaders of the National League East and Central Divisions meet for a marquee matchup on Friday night, as they look to extend their respective division leads and take the first spot in the Senior Circuit. The Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals play the second game of this four-game series, with each of those teams by far the best team in the major leagues in run differential. The Cubs are an amazing +93 runs so far in 26 games coming into Thursday night and the Nationals are +50. For reference, the 116-win Seattle Mariner team of 2001 was +43 on the season.

For this game, Max Scherzer takes the mound for the visiting Washington Nationals and John Lackey starts for the Chicago Cubs. The NBA Odds line has opened even money on each squad at most every book, with each side taking -105 juice at books such as BookMaker. The O/U total has still not been listed for this game as of Friday morning. No idea why that line is coming in so late with having pitchers of such extended records pitching.

Nationals starter, Max Scherzer, is coming off of a brilliant performance in St. Louis where he gave up no earned runs, gave up 4 hits, and posted a 9/0 K/BB ratio over 7.0 innings pitched. On the season over 6 starts, Scherzer has posted a 3-1 record, 3.55 ERA, 39/12 K/BB rate, 1.18 WHIP, and .237 batting average against over 38.0 innings pitched. After a 2015 that saw Scherzer walk a career low 3.8% of batters, his walk rate has regressed to the norm of about 7.7%. On the other side of that his 9.24 K/9 rate is the lowest it has been since 2011.

Starting for the Cubs, John Lackey continues his first season with Chicago after his first year in the National League was successful last year with the Cardinals. In his last game, Lackey got deep into the game, pitching 8 innings of 2-run ball while giving up just 3 hits at home against Atlanta. Over Lackey’s 5 starts, he has gotten lit up in two of them, allowing 6 earned runs at Cincinnati and at Arizona. In 2016 thus far, Lackey is continuing the lefty-righty splits that he exhibited in 2015, allowing a .255 batting average against to lefties and .209 batting average against against righties. Unfortunately for Lackey, Washington can put together a great lineup of left-handed batters, including Bryce Harper.

Back to Scherzer, his lefty/righty splits are even more extreme – as he has allowed a .290 batting average against for left handers and just .167 against right handed batters. The bulk of the Cubs big bats also bat lefty or switch, so not good news for Scherzer either in that regard.

Without a listed total, I need to pick a side here, and I’m going to back the Nationals and the better starting pitcher in Max Scherzer. Look for Jayson Werth to have a big game, as he is batting .500 lifetime against Lackey, and also Harper who has drawn a few walks. Harper has been a walk machine lately, it’s just a matter of someone knocking him in. There are plenty of lines to choose from as this is basically a pick’em game, so take Washington -103 at BookMaker as one of your MLB Picks.

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Free MLB Pick:  Nationals -103
Best Line Offered: at BookMaker
MLB Record: 14-6-1, +7.60 Units