MLB: 10* Chicago Cubs -107 (959)
Take the Chicago Cubs (#959)
I have no hesitation supporting Kyle Hendricks and the Chicago Cubs in a pick 'em price range against the Nationals in Game 5 tonight. We've seen this show before. Chicago was down 2-1 in LA against the Dodgers last year before they rallied back to win the next three. We saw the Cubs facing elimination against the Indians, facing a 3-1 series deficit before they won the final three games of the World Series, with the final two wins coming on the Indians home field.
Meanwhile, the Nationals got eliminated in Game 5 at home last year to the LA Dodgers, going 0-2 in potential closeout contests. They lost both home games while failing to get out of the NLDS in their previous playoff appearance in 2014 and lost a pair of home playoff games (including Game 5) in the first round against St Louis prior to that.
Obviously, this year's teams are different from those from recent seasons. Dusty Baker and Joe Maddon, however, are not. In an elimination game, with every managerial decision magnified, Maddon's edge over Baker is a significant one.
The markets have made a big move towards the Nats today, offering us a chance to back the superior, more confident team in a pick 'em price range. I understand the move stems from the fact that Baker is likely to use Matt Scherzer out of the bullpen if necessary today. But I also understand that Scherzer coming out of the bullpen on short rest is not the same as Scherzer, rested and ready as the starter.
The Nationals were significant money losers at home during the regular season and they're lucky not to be 0-2 on this field here in the playoffs. That's a trend worth riding again here'. Take the Cubs.