Yesterday wasn’t ideal for Chicago, losing the NL Central title at Wrigley Field in a 1-3 defeat by the Brewers. Instead of advancing to Thursday and having home field throughout the NL playoffs, the Cubs now see their season on the line in the 2018 NL wild card free pick. Colorado has to come across the country after dropping the NL West in a 2-5 loss to the Dodgers yesterday. Despite the travel issue, oddsmakers are still calling tonight’s game relatively close setting the line at CHC -135, COL +125.
Can the Rockies Regain Their Mojo?
The Dodgers got out to a 5-0 lead yesterday before Colorado scored 2 in the 9th in the 5-2 loss. It’s important for the Rockies to not dwell on that however as Colorado had won 9 of 10 prior. 6 of those wins were at Coors Field where there’s an obvious offensive advantage, but the Rockies still put 10+ runs in four of those games. The Rockies offense can power a win at Wrigley in the 2018 NL wild card free pick. Chris Iannetta (.385), Charlie Blackmon (.370), Carlos Gonzalez (.348) and Nolan Arenado (.345) have all had huge last weeks of the season. Arenado and Trevor Story have combined to hit 8 HR over the past week although the wind is expected to be blowing in slightly in tonight’s contest.
The Cubs scratched out just 3 hits yesterday and there are some questions surrounding their offense which bodes well for tonight’s Colorado starter Kyle Freeland (17-7, 2.85). He made just one start against Chicago this season, giving up 3ER in 7.0 IP way back on April 30th. Freeland has had a nice finish to the season, allowing 2ER or less in 9 of 11 games. His last time out was a rough one however, serving up 11 hits to Washington. Tonight is just the third career appearance for Freeland vs. Cubs batters and no player on Chicago has faced the lefty more than 6 times. Who gains the edge in that battle of unfamiliarity?
— The Tease (@CrosseyedTease) October 1, 2018
Do the Cubs Face a Home Field Dis-Advantage Tonight?
It’s not exactly a 108 year World Series drought, but Chicago fans are getting a bit antsy after the team blew a 5-game division lead that they held at the beginning of September. Per usual, Joe Maddon made some questionable calls in yesterday’s loss to Milwaukee including pulling Jose Quintana after 64 pitches and 1ER allowed, not walking Christian Yelich with first base open in the 3rd, and not bunting a leadoff single into scoring position late in the game. Anthony Rizzo continued to stay hot with a HR yesterday (.385 last 7 days) and Daniel Murphy had a hit to push his average to .375 over that span. Overall the Chicago offense is struggling however, being held to 1 run scored or less in 4 of the last 8. Oddsmakers have set the O/U for the 2018 NL wild card free pick at just 7 runs.
While their offense may be in a bit of disarray, Chicago does have experience on their side on the mound. Jon Lester (18-6, 3.32) makes his 22nd career postseason start tonight and his second appearance in the wild card game. Lester pitched shutouts in his last two starts at Wrigley in the regular season and held opponents to 0 runs scored in 3 of the last 6 games. Lester has pitched well against Iannetta (.143, 14AB), DJ LeMahieu (.111, 9AB), Gonzalez (.143, 14AB) and Story (.167, 6AB). Blackmon (.444, 9AB) and Arenado (.300, 10AB) have had some success however.
2018 NL Wild Card Free Pick Betting
This month has definitely not been ‘Rocktober’ as Colorado has dropped 8 of their last 9 playoff games overall. That being said the Cubs have dropped 4 of their last 5 postseason contests. Chicago has the advantage in pitching experience, but can the Cubs struggling offense get to the youngster Freeland working on short rest? If so, the Colorado bullpen has been the 3rd best in the NL in September. Lester will be great, the Chicago bullpen is a major issue. Does Maddon turn this game over to Cole Hamels or Kyle Hendricks if the Cubs can somehow get the lead and if so how do they perform in those roles? All total, that’s a lot of questions surrounding Chicago especially with the talent of the Colorado offense.
NL Wild Card Free Pick: Colorado Rockies +125