For the Chicago Cubs, it may not quite be win or go home, but down two games to none to the New York Mets, at Wrigley Field, where the series is now headed it might as well be (8:07pm ET, Tuesday). Only once in the sport’s long and storied history has a team come back from a 3-0 deficit.
But the Mets, who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2000, will be looking to
force the Cubs to do just that. Currently, the team has all the momentum and better yet, they have the favorable pitching match-ups.
In game one, Chicago decided to put Jon Lester on the mound, favoring the option of giving game two starter and Cy Young favorite, Jake Arrieta, an extra day’s rest. Lester, while not putting up the numbers of his teammate, was not a bad choice. His postseason pedigree, which includes a World Series ring, speaks for itself. Prior to the game one start, Lester had started 13 playoff games over the course of six seasons. He had the most experience and was the most playoff-tested of anyone of his teammates either in the rotation or on the offensive side of the ball.
Lester matched up against playoff rookie Matt Harvey, who was making his first LCS start as opposed to the Chicago lefty’s fifth. The money was on Lester, but what people may have failed to realize was that the veteran had only won once in his prior four LCS starts.
After Saturday, you can make that once in his past five. Lester didn’t pitch badly necessarily, Harvey just pitched better. In fact, the 26-year old righty has been proving the Mets were right to cap his innings in the regular season as he has given up just four earned runs in 12.2 playoff innings pitched. He has been the ace of the New York staff and if a game five is required, he’s expected to be back on the mound.
In game two, Chicago looked to have the decided advantage. Arrieta was on the mound and he was one of the best pitchers in baseball this year. In the do-or-die wildcard game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, his first ever playoff start, Arrieta was perfect, going nine scoreless frames and striking out 11. But again, what that one start seemed to hide was the lackluster one after the fact, in which Arrieta lasted just under six innings and gave up four earned runs. It turns out that was more of what one should have expected to see on Sunday as against the Mets, Arrieta lasted just five innings and gave up four runs. He was outdueled by yet another playoff rookie, Noah Syndergaard, who put in his best postseason outing yet, going 5.2 innings and giving up just one run on three hits.
The Mets already had the deepest rotation of the remaining playoff teams, but now having touched up Lester and Arrieta, easily Chicago’s best arms, it doesn’t look very promising for the Cubs going forward.
Pitching Match-Up: (NYM) Jacob deGrom vs (CHI) Kyle Hendricks
Expected to go for the Mets is Jacob deGrom, who will be looking for his third career playoff win in as many starts. Despite going third, deGrom has been the best of his teammates off the bump. He has pitched 13 innings and has given up just two earned runs. He has also struck out 20. If deGrom has playoff jitters, they certainly aren’t showing.
His numbers speak for themselves but it should be noted that deGrom pitched to a 1.99 ERA at home this year compared to a 3.09 ERA on the road. He also lost both of his starts against the Cubs. And to add to the trifecta, he is coming off of back-to-back starts throwing 100 or more pitches. There’s no reason to suggest he won’t go out and continue to pitch as stellar as he has, but just some things to keep in mind.
His opponent meanwhile, Kyle Hendricks (pictured), is the last hope for the Cubs to attempt to salvage this series. Yet another rookie pitcher, Hendricks lost his only playoff start against the St. Louis Cardinals. He gave up three runs in just 4.2 innings, although he did manage to strike out seven.
Hendricks has an uphill battle to climb against the Mets and the pitching match-up does not favor him at all. The one thing he does have going for him however is that he pitched to a 3.38 ERA at home and it was just his first ever playoff start. Perhaps the rust is gone now and he’ll be able to keep the Cubs alive.
That said, my money is still on deGrom to have the better outing, even if it isn’t his team that wins.
Hitting Match-Up: (NYM) Daniel Murphy vs (CHC) Kyle Schwarber
Both Chicago and New York have managed to continue to hit home runs in the playoffs combining for 23 over their total 14 games. Leading the way with nine of these home runs are Daniel Murphy, with five, two of which have come in the LCS and Kyle Schwarber, with four, one of which has come in the LCS.
Murphy has been an X-Factor for New York and the rookie Schwarber, has been a revelation for Chicago. Schwarber has a .381 average in the postseason, the highest of all remaining players. Murphy is third with .357, behind only Schwarber and his teammate Curtis Granderson (.375).
In the LCS however, only Granderson and Murphy have maintained that level of production as besides his home run, Schwarber really hasn’t contributed. He is hitting .125, tied for second worst among all remaining players. The Cubs will certainly need more from him if they hope to stay alive in this crucial game against the Mets.
Game 3 Verdict: New York Mets at Chicago Cubs Betting Picks
All indications say I should pick the Mets which is why I’m going with the Cubs. There is something about having your back against the wall that makes you only want to fight harder. The Cubs are back in Wrigley, they are back where they had so much regular season success. If ever there was a time to turn things around it would be right there in game three.
- Bet on the Chicago Cubs @ best odds of +115 on the moneyline to win game three with 5Dimes Sportsbook. Next best is BetOnline at +114.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.