Washington manager Dusty Baker has sent oddsmakers scrambling the past two days as he flip-flops his starting pitcher for the Cubs Nationals Game 4 Free Pick. First off, game 4 was delayed Tuesday due to rain. Then it was announced that Washington ace Stephen Strasburg was going to miss the start because the mold in the Chicago air had knocked him down for the count with allergies. After plenty of blowback from that announcement, Baker instead changed course and said it would indeed be Strasburg in the elimination game of the NLDS.
The spread has looked like a pinball as the result of the Nationals’ indecisiveness, going from Chicago -160 when Washington was going to send Tanner Roark into the game as the spot starter to -115 now with Strasburg in. Chicago has their own pitching questions as well as Jake Arrieta takes the mound for the first time since September 26th after dealing with hamstring issues. It’s a cold and rainy day at Wrigley which usually isn’t good for the hammy – but is Strasburg going to be more worried about the pollen count?
— Rick Morrissey (@MorrisseyCST) October 11, 2017
What is Washington Going to Get From Their Pitcher In the Nationals Cubs Game 4 Free Pick?
For all the sports lore about bloody socks and flu games, the Nationals look a bit dysfunctional almost benching their ace with a case of the sniffles. Maybe the Nats’ travel staff did book them at the Hotel Coral Essex, but this is an elimination game. Plus, Strasburg was great against the Cubs in game one, striking out 10 and giving up just 3 hits. Thanks to the rain postponement yesterday, Washington is set up with Max Scherzer for game 5 back in DC tomorrow so the Nationals Cubs Game 4 Free Pick is huge even beyond just avoiding elimination now.
Arrieta Dealing With Issues of His Own
“The Snake” looked like the Arrieta of old winning six of eight decisions at the end of July and in early August. He left a September 4th start with hamstring issues however and pitched only 10.1 IP the last month of the season. Arrieta is postseason savvy, but how will he deal with the rust? Strasburg can take a Claritin, but how will Arrieta deal with the combination of rarely pitching lately combined with the chilly, overcast, 58° weather at Wrigley? A 16MPH wind blowing in from center is sure to help both pitchers.
Nationals Cubs Game 4 Free Pick
You have to wonder the mental state of Washington in the Nationals Cubs Game 4 Free Pick. This is not just because of the Strasburg mess, but the whole disorder of the unexpected off day yesterday due to the rain. Cubs players were able to go home and rest in their own beds while Washington sat with idle hands all day. Maybe some of them went to watch “IT” and relax but maybe others gorged on too much deep dish pizza. If Strasburg is off, the Chicago offense can jump on him early. At least if Arrieta struggles, the downtrodden Washington offense will give him some leniency.
Pick: Chicago -115