Chicago (Lester) at Washington (Ross) +100 O/U 9.5
We’re seeing a near pick em price range in this matchup where the home team has some significant edges . Let’s start with the fact that the Chicago Cubs just aren’t very good in 2017; a bottom five team in profitability and a .500 team on the field through the first half of the campaign. To make matters worse, the injury bug has been biting, with Kris Bryant sidelined today, joining big bats Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward on the bench. For a squad that has averaged less than three runs per game over the past week, the loss of Bryant certainly isn’t a good thing!
Jon Lester won 19 games last year with a 2.44 ERA. This year, he’s only notched five wins and his ERA is nearly a run and a half higher. What gives? Simple – the Cubs defense behind him is a shell of what it was last year; and that defense is notably worse without Heyward or Zobrist on the field. Last year, his BABIP was .254. This year, when opponents make contact, they’re hitting .304, and much of that difference can be attributed to a defense that isn’t making plays behind him the way they did last year. Expect the Nats to continue their aggressive baserunning against a pitcher who has struggled keeping runners from stealing bases. And Chicago’s bullpen behind Lester is spent after short stints from their starters in each of the first three games of this series.
Joe Ross has been extremely unlucky with a career high 5.40 ERA in 2017, because he’s got career best numbers in strikeouts per nine innings and walks per nine innings. His xFIP is nearly a run and a half LOWER than his ERA – we can expect that ERA to drop moving forward – and the Nats have been wining for him all year, 7-3 in his ten previous starts. Washington’s lineup continues to pound opposing pitchers, hitting another three home runs last night, averaging a full run per game more than their counterparts in the other dugout. Look for the Nats to make it three in a row over the defending World Series champs in afternoon action on Thursday.