The May 17th Nationals at Cubs matchup will be a homecoming for Jon Lester (0-1, 2.25 ERA), who pitches for Washington after spending the last six seasons with Chicago. The Nats’ visit Wrigley Field coming off a 3-0 win vs. the Diamondbacks on Sunday, but are still mired in last place in the NL East.
Chicago is a -149 favorite on Monday night, and are much better at home where they are 13-8. The Cubs like where they are at with starting pitcher Adbert Alzolay (1-3, 4.50 ERA) who has 19 K’s to just 3 BB over his last three starts. Oddsmakers are still expecting some runs in this one, setting the run total at 8.5.
Lester Night at Wrigley Field
There will only be about 10,000 fans in attendance at Wrigley Field for the May 17th Nationals at Cubs contest, but they will surely show their appreciation for Lester who helped Chicago snap a 108 year drought to win the 2016 World Series. It’s not only Lester returning to the North Side, but Kyle Schwarber and Starlin Castro, three beloved members of the organization.
There may be some hard feelings on Lester’s side though, as the Cubs turned down his $25 million mutual option in the offseason. The left-hander will be making his 4th start of the season on Monday, and has been pretty solid so far with 0, 3, and 1 ER allowed over his previous three outings (16.0 IP).
The Nats’ are just 3-8 in their last 11 overall, and 2-5 in their last 7 vs. a RH starter. Washington was able to take two of three in Arizona over the weekend however, including a 17-2 shellacking on Friday night. They also got 7.0 IP of shutout ball from Erick Fedde on Sunday, meaning the bullpen will be fairly fresh for Monday’s tilt.
Can Cubs Spoil the Night?
Lester, Schwarber, and Co. are a big part of Cubs lore, and Chicago manager David Ross was Lester’s personal catcher not just in the Windy City but dating back to their days in Boston. That being said, the North Siders aren’t just going to give one up here, as they sit in 4th in the Central 3GB from the Cardinals while chasing the Reds and Brewers as well.
Chicago had a nice weekend taking two of three in Detroit, losing a 9-8 extra inning game on Saturday. That capped off just a 2-3 road trip though after falling twice in Cleveland. the Cubs are glad to be back in the Friendly Confines, where they have won 5 of their last 6. Chicago is also 9-3 in their last 12 vs. a lefty, and the four players who have ever faced Lester have gone 15-37 (.405) against him.
Does Adzolay give the Cubs an edge in this spot? The right-hander has allowed 2 ER or less in three of his last four starts but also served up 2 HR to the Indians his last time out. Josh Bell is the only Nationals batter that has seen Adzolay in his career, but he’s 2-4 with 2 HR vs. the Chicago starter.
Free May 17th Nationals at Cubs Pick
The Cubs are solid at home this season, but Lester is comfortable pitching at Wrigley Field and Schwarber may have a little extra scorn after being let go in the offseason. There’s too much value on Washington in this one.
Nationals 5 – Cubs 3
Pick: Nationals +130