NLCS Game 3 Best Bet
L.A. Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs
The 2017 NLCS shifts over to the Windy City of Chicago for the next few days and the Chicago Cubs are looking to get back into this series down 0-2. The Cubs don’t have too look further than what the Yankees did in Game 3 of the ALCS last night as their 2-0 series deficit was basically old news by the time the fifth inning of Game 3 was played with New York up 8-0.
No matter how the job gets done, Chicago is in one of those “must-win” spots tonight, because given how good the Dodgers have been all year, beating them four in a row is not a situation with a high likelihood of success.
L.A. (+101), Chicago (-111); Total set at 8
Although they are down 0-2 in the series, the Cubs have to like how their rotation set up for this “must-win” spot in Game 3. Starter Kyle Hendricks gets the ball this evening and he is the manager Joe Maddon prefers to trot out there in big games. When Chicago had the ability to set up their rotation in their desired order for the NLDS, it was Hendricks who got the ball in Games 1 and 5 (both Cubs wins), and outside of those struggles in a wild Game 5 of the NLDS, Hendricks is a guy who’s been the model of consistency for Maddon and the Cubs for months.
The numbers may not always tell that story, but when he’s considered the “ace” in Maddon’s eyes as nearly all Game 1 starters for MLB teams in the first round of the playoffs, the Cubs have to be confident they can get into the win column tonight for the first time in the NLCS.
Hendricks is opposed by Yu Darvish for L.A., and after some ups and downs since coming to the Dodgers, Darvish was spectacular in L.A.’s Game 3 win over Arizona to close out that series. Darvish allowed just two hits and struck out seven in that 3-1 win and was probably pulled a little earlier than necessary given the situation. That is the type of performance L.A. expected from Darvish when they acquired him, and while he rarely did that in the regular season for them, showing up in the playoffs is much more important.
It’s because of that dominant performance by Darvish, and Hendricks rough start in Game 5 of the NLDS, that we’ve already seen a bit of action on tonight’s game come the Dodgers way. Chicago opened up in the -120 range, but it looks as though early bettors have more faith in Darvish and this Dodgers team to put a stranglehold on this series tonight.
After all, it’s the Dodgers who have more pressure on them this year with their “World Series or bust” mentality, and having a 2-0 series lead cut in half and potentially tied up 24 hours later would only make those whispers of this being the “same old Dodgers, choking in the LCS” grow even louder. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but the defending champion Cubs aren’t going to go down without a fight and I believe it’s a mistake to be against them this evening.
In today’s “what have you done for me lately” world, I get why it’s the Dodgers getting action here, but this Cubs team earned their stripes a year ago being down in October, and just like the Yankees last night, Chicago can’t hold anything back tonight. Darvish may have looked unhittable in Arizona, but we can’t forget about all the struggles he had for L.A. prior to that as his control can waiver in a big way at times.
L.A. is just 6-4 SU as a team with Darvish on the hill (including his 1-0 record in the postseason), and if he struggles with his command early, this Cubs lineup won’t have any issue in making him pay. Chicago is 19-7 SU in their last 26 at home, and with a 36-15 SU run going after a day off, yesterday’s travel day had to help Chicago more in terms of getting rest – they hadn’t really since prior to Game 4 of the NLDS – and regrouping.
This is also the first time in this series that the Cubs get to see a righty after facing southpaws Kershaw and Hill in Games 1 and 2, and their 16-5 SU run at home vs righties is nothing to overlook. With Hendricks on the hill the Cubs have to be confident defensively that they’ll be able to keep L.A.’s attack at bay, and with L.A.’s history of coming up short in the LCS round, the Dodgers 1-10 SU record in their last 11 on the road in this round of the playoffs might start to play in the minds of this Dodgers team if they get down early.
For as good as the Dodgers are, they aren’t without their flaws, and baseball fans definitely know that from watching their massive struggles in August and early September. You could argue that part of the reason for L.A.’s tumble during that part of the year was because there was no intensity with nothing really left to play for until the playoffs, but it does speak to the potential inability for these Dodgers to put their foot on the opponents neck and close things out when needed. Going up 3-0 would essentially have the Dodgers wrapping this thing up and moving on to their goal of the 2017 World Series eventually, but I’m not ready to back that happening yet.
Tonight’s game is going to be all about the defending champion Chicago Cubs getting off the mat and trying to make this a series again. Heck, even just putting a bit of water on that seed of doubt in the Dodgers minds with a win in Game 3 could end up being just the thing to spark a Cubs comeback in this series.
Best Bet: Chicago (-111)