Nationals vs Cubs – MLB Pick for Game 4
Perhaps this just isn’t Washington’s year. The Nats fell into a 0-1 hole after game one in their NLDS series with the Chicago Cubs and on Monday couldn’t even get a win with Max Scherzer toeing the rubber.
That’s not a good sign and now the Nats have to go back into Wrigley Field and steal a win. That win wouldn’t even push them into the next round of the MLB playoffs, either. At best, the Nats would force a decisive game five back at Nationals Park.
We can’t rule that out, as the Nats were the higher seed coming into the playoffs, while they also offer serious value in this spot. Most MLB betting sites are favoring the Cubs to end this thing at home tonight, while Bovada hands out a fun +142 line with Washington as the road underdog.
Should we roll with the defending champions to close this series out at home or take the money and favor the Nats forcing an intense game five?
Jake Arrieta (14-10, 3.53 ERA) is without a doubt the main reason the Cubs are solid favorites tonight. He’s had an up and down season and is even battling a hamstring issue.
That being said, aces tend to push teams forward in the playoffs and it could be tough to combat Arrieta’s strong home numbers (5-2, 2.90 ERA, .206 batting average). Arrieta was also quite stingy (2-0, 2.38 ERA) during last year’s title run, so if he can snap back into that form, the Nats would understandably be in trouble.
Betting against Arrieta feels like a losing plight on the surface, but there could be wiggle room here.
For one, the Nats do have a loaded offense that can matchup well against Chicago’s bearded hurler. Washington was one of the more consistently destructive forces against right-handed pitching in 2017, finishing inside the top 10 in both home runs and batting average when taking on righties.
The splits could easily end up favoring the Nats, who had a win within their grasp last night and might have too much veteran leadership to fade so quickly. After all, the Nats particularly had success against Arrieta earlier this year, when they roughed him up to the tune of 5 runs on 6 hits.
Regardless of whether or not Washington gets to Arrieta early, they’re going to need help from their own pitcher, Tanner Roark (13-11, 4.67 ERA). The 31-year old righty is in a tough spot on the road against a dangerous Cubs offense, but the good news is he’s actually spun his best ball on the road in 2017.
Washington will need that to be the case again tonight, while it can’t hurt that the Cubs tend to be a little more deadly against lefties. Roark’s lone start against the Cubs earlier this year (W, 2 runs) is somewhat encouraging for this live-or-die showdown, as well.
The skinny here is Arrieta gives the Cubs a much more stable run. The offenses are dead even and Chicago has the home edge. I just can’t kick Washington’s value at Bovada, though. The Nats will have their backs against the wall, but I think that brings out the best in their bats tonight.
We could play it safe and try to make money with the Cubs tonight, but playoff baseball can be quite volatile. I’d rather aim high tonight and bet the Nats keep this thing alive for one more game. Here’s to a rubber match as we back the Nats and their fun +145 line.