It’s beginning to look like the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals might be on a crash course for a date in the National League playoffs. The teams will give fans a preview of what such a matchup would look like when the Cubs host the Nationals for a four-game series beginning Thursday.
The Cubs have cemented themselves as the favorites in the NL Central after sweeping a three-game set in Pittsburgh this week. At 20-6, they’re off to their best start since 1907 – a year before their most recent World Series crown. The Nationals also are making history at 19-8, matching the 1979 Montreal Expos for the best 27-game start in franchise history. Washington took two of three from the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals this week, including a 13-2 drubbing in the series finale Wednesday.
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, MASN2 (Washington), CSN Chicago-Plus
LINE HISTORY: The Cubs opened as the favorites at -135 Wednesday afternoon and by Thursday morning they were all that way up to -150 at most books. As is typical with games at Wrigley Field, the total opened late but was set at 8.0 when it hit the board. View complete line history here.
Nationals – LF B. Revere (Probable Thursday, oblique), RP M. Belisle (Out Thursday, calf), SP M. Scherzer (Questionable Friday, hamstring).
Cubs – RF J. Heyward (Questionable Thursday, wrist), CF M. Szczur (15-Day DL, hamstring), C M. Montero (15-Day DL, back).
WEATHER REPORT: Clear, cool, and calm will be the order of the day at Wrigley Field this evening. The temperature will be in the low 50’s but there will be virtually no wind and not a cloud in the sky.
HOT FAN BATTLE:
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Joe Ross (3-0, 0.79 ERA) vs. Cubs RH Kyle Hendricks (1-2, 3.52)
Ross made his major-league debut against the Cubs last June and took the loss, allowing three runs over five innings. The 22-year-old has not allowed more than one run in any of his four outings this season and shut down a tough Cardinals lineup last time out. He gave up one run and six hits over six frames to win his fifth straight decision dating to last season.
Hendricks is winless in his last three starts, but he got back on track last time out after a couple of uneven outings. The 26-year-old gave up just one run and two hits over five innings April 26 against Milwaukee but didn’t get a decision after being lifted for a pinch hitter. Hendricks is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts against the Nationals.
* Nationals are 5-0 in their last 5 vs. National League Central.
* Nationals are 1-5 in Ross’ last 6 road starts vs. a team with a winning record.
* Cubs are 6-0 in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Cubs are 1-7 in their last 8 vs. National League East.
* Under is 4-0-2 in Nationals last 6 games vs. a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15.
* Under is 5-0 in Hendricks’ last 5 home starts.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The Covers Consensus data is split on today’s matchup with 51 percent of the picks on the road underdog and only 49 percent on the best team in baseball. The total wagering is leaning toward the under with 58 percent of the picks. View full consensus data here.