Cubs vs Nationals – MLB NLDS Game 5 Pick for October 12th

by Kevin Roberts
on October 12, 2017

The race to the 2017 World Series has already developed into a pretty wild ride. That hasn’t been the case for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros, who are waiting patiently to kick off their respective Championship Series.

The New York Yankees shocked us all by storming back from a 2-0 hole to top the Cleveland Indians, however. On Thursday night the Washington Nationals can do something similar after falling into 1-0 and 2-1 holes.

Favored to win this series by many and even thought to be a World Series threat, the Nats have been flirting with disaster. A loss during a Max Scherzer start almost sent Washington’s title run off the tracks, but the Nats rebounded and forced this game back to Nationals Park for a decisive game five.

We called that game four win and we’re back tonight to try to figure out who moves on from this series to battle the Dodgers in the next round. This unsurprisingly has turned into a virtual pick’em at most baseball betting sites, with Bovada specifically splitting this thing evenly with both teams holding -110 lines.

It’s going to be tough to find clear wiggle room in this do-or-die game five, but that’s exactly what we need to do if we want to bet on this contest and profit. Let’s dive into this thing and see how we can make money tonight:

Chicago Cubs (-110)
VS
Washington Nationals (-110)
Total: 7.5

It all comes down to this. The Cubs got off to a slow start this year but rebounded after the break to look like one of the better teams in baseball.

The defending champs continue to have one of the most explosive offenses in the majors but may not boast the best pitching anymore.

That powerful offense also hasn’t really shown up in this series, with Chicago maxing out at six runs in a game two-run and failing to top two runs in any other game against the Nats.

You’d think the Cubs will eventually find their groove offensively and a contest with their season on the line is about as good of a time as any.

As fate would have it, the Cubs get to take on a lefty in Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 2.96 ERA) in this one, too. Gonzalez has been very steady all season long, but we can’t ignore the fact that the Cubs have fared well against southpaws (top 12 in home runs and batting average).

This still feels like a matchup that favors Gonzalez. The stingy lefty has been in his best form at home, where he’s posted a mean 2.76 ERA and held opposing bats to a collective .226 batting average and just 9 homers. Gonzalez certainly is not invincible, but the matchup looks solid for him by the numbers and he’s in his comfort zone here.

Gonzalez should also lean on a stellar showing earlier this year against this very Cubs lineup. Gio was ablaze in that meeting, striking out 8 batters and limiting the talented Cubs to just one run on two hits. Something similar can’t be demanded in this spot, but it certainly is plausible.

On the other side the Cubs are bringing Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.03 ERA) to this fight in hopes he can save their season. The 27-year old righty has excelled on the road (2.83 ERA) and he actually dominated the Nats in a shutout win in game one of this series.

If you’re looking for an edge on the mound, it still goes to Gio. Not only is he at home and stifled the Cubs earlier this year, but Hendricks has tougher splits to deal with. The Nats can mash both sides of the ball and come into this crucial game five ranking inside the top 10 in homers and batting average against righties.

We’re not getting any obvious value here. You’re just picking the winner. The Nats stand out as the better overall team and even with Gonzalez starting, they’re going to have a lot of lethal arms to go to as they try to force their way into the next round.

Washington is at home and with the same odds at Bovada, they feel like the better pick. I also can’t really imagine Hendricks dominating the Nats two times on the road in the same series. I think they get to him early in this one and hold off the Cubs with a collection of strong arms out of the bullpen.

Pick: Washington Nationals to Win (-110)
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