Nationals vs Cubs – NLDS Game 3 Pick for October 9th

by Kevin Roberts
on October 9, 2017

Something has to break as we head to a crucial game three in the NLDS. The Washington Nationals went down into a 1-0 hole with a game one loss to the Chicago Cubs but kept this thing a series with an emphatic 6-3 win in game two.

Now both teams arguably have their backs against the wall as the series shifts to Wrigley Field, as a loss on Monday night could push the loser one step closer to a playoff exit.

The visiting Nats hold the edge on paper, as one of the best pitchers in the majors in Max Scherzer (16-6, 2.51 ERA) prepares to toe the rubber. The man known as Mad Max has been dealing with a hamstring issue but looks ready to lead the charge.

Chicago’s offense won’t be an easy out on the road, while Jose Quintana (11-11, 4.15 ERA) could potentially give Washington fits on the other side.

This is an even matchup across the board, but most MLB betting sites are mildly favoring the Nats due to the presence of Scherzer. Should we take easy money with the Nats at -120 here, or is there a more compelling bet to make?

Washington Nationals (-120)
Chicago Cubs (EVEN)
Total: 7.5

There isn’t enough value in the Cubs tonight. They’re at home and always dangerous, but an EVEN line at Bovada isn’t tempting when they have to get through Scherzer to nab the win.

This was always going to be Washington’s series to lose. The Cubs did well to steal game one and obviously have a shot at the upset, but tonight’s matchup doesn’t bode well if we’re too lean on logic.

Scherzer made easy work of the Cubs (2 hits, 1 run) in his lone start against Chicago earlier this year. He’s oddly been amazing (10-2, 1.82 ERA) on the road in 2017, as well. On top of that, this Cubs offense – while still quite strong against righties – is usually a lineup to get more excited about when taking on southpaws.

Quintana does give the Nats a lefty to deal with, however. The 28-year old has been hit or miss with the Cubs this year, while he’s posted a meager 4.94 ERA overall at home in 2017. It could also be helpful or troubling that Quintana gets a Nats team he hasn’t faced before.

That could help the pitcher or the opposing lineup, but with this type of matchup we might want to consider two things; the Nats get a mild park upgrade and they wreck southpaws as a team (5th in collective batting average).

Washington specifically has two problematic matchups here for Quintana, as Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman both rake lefties. Add those two with the power of Bryce Harper and Tre Turner’s base-running skills, and this is a matchup to hate.

Ultimately, Quintana gives us the inferior arm in this contest. He hasn’t been lights out at home and by the numbers, he’s got the more troubling splits to deal with. I’m sure he has a chance to hold serve and let the bullpen finish a tight game off, but I’m not sure that’s the logic play. It’s also not where the betting value resides.

Mad Max could always collapse, but it’s not what makes sense here. Everything points to him delivering and if we can get him and the Nats at -120 we usually need to take that value and run with it.

Pick: Washington Nationals to Win (-120)
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