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October 9, 2015 (2:00 PM ET)

There are 5 college football picks on Saturday! All five are being released a day in advance on Friday.

There is also one MLB wager tonight.
 

Take Chicago Cubs as underdogs (+100) against St. Louis Cardinals for 3% of the bankroll.
(Lester and Lackey must start for wager to have action)

Two friends will take the mound in this NLDS opener as Jon Lester and former teammate John Lackey are set to square off! Both hurlers were instrumental to Red Sox winning the World Series two years ago and still maintain a close relationship despite going separate ways. The two veterans have a competitive streak that has seen them start more post-season games than the vast majority of active pitchers. Not much bad can be said about either and it isn't the starting pitching matchup that gives neither team an edge. This crucial clash will likely be decided by intangibles such as momentum, confidence and being in game shape as opposed to rusy and the Cubs have the advantage in all 3 aspects.

The Cardinals were the best team in the regular season and notched 100 wins! You'd have to ask yourself then why they have been installed as very marginal favorites at home against a division rival that finished 3rd! There are good reasons for that. The primary one being that Mike Matheny's club has not played a game since last Sunday and will understandably be rusty. The Cubs meanwhile played a win or go home Wild Card game in Pittsburgh and triumphed. They are not only match fit and ready for another battle but the confidence that they acquired from those 9 high-pressure innings is invaluable! Why? That's because they knew a defeat would end their season. And yet for such a young ball club, they stuck to what Joe Maddon has been telling them all season, which is to believe in themselves and play loose and they came through. Now they're in St. Louis knowing they belong with the best and with renewed confidence. It doesn't get more nerve-wracking than an elimination game in hostile territory but they remained unaffected and moved on. Let's not forget that the Cubs own the best road record in baseball this season at 49-33 and are no strangers to winning away from Wrigley Field.

St. Louis will have the services of catcher Yadier Molina back but it remains to be seen how effective he will be in what is his first start since Sept 20th! The veteran is crucial to his team's success but missed nearly a month due to an injured thumb and may not be at his best on this opening game. We expect him and the Cardinals to get better as the series go on. He and his teammates will likely be rusty and not as reliable as they normally are. However while we believe the Cards do have a good chance of winning this best out of 5 series and making it to another National League Championship Series, we see them struggling in Game 1! Chicago has several advantages coming into this contest and is simply better prepared for this important showdown. Having played and won on the road just 2 days ago in what was even a high pressure situation, they will be the more ready and relaxed team. As the home team at Busch Stadium and the favorite, all the pressure will be on the Cardinals and that is not a situation where closer Trevor Rosenthal and some of his teammates have fared well in.

Jon Lester started the biggest games for Boston when they won the World Series and owns an excellent 2.57 ERA in 14 playoff games! Not only has he proven himself in such situations but he's also had great success against the Cardinals (2.59 ERA) this season! He's the type of pitcher that has the right mentality for such games and always seems to elevate his performance, the bigger the occasion. Lackey is not much different but he doesn't have the advantage of being a southpaw like Lester. It is no secret that the Cardinals struggled against left-handed pitcher this season! They absolutely dominated righties but that's where it ended. They may have a better chance against Hendriks tomorrow as they'll have shaken off their rust and also face a right-hander in what could be a bounce back game for them if they lose tonight. We believe their chances of putting on a solid error-free display is better tomorrow than it is this evening. The Cards had the 3rd lowest OPS (.662) in baseball against left-handed pitching!

Lester and Cubs find themselves as slight underdogs and that says a lot about how the oddsmakers see this unfolding. It's not often that you see St. Louis as such small home favorites and when you do, it is for good reason. Vegas couldn't possibly set the 100 win ball club and perennial contender that is Cardinals as home underdogs! They would then probably get too much action on them and not be able to balance the books which is one of their primary concerns. So what they did is do the next best thing and set them as marginal home favorites. This way it doesn't raise a flag like it would if Cards had been installed as home underdogs and yet it is a tell sign to sharps. The Cubbies have won 9 in a row and are heading into this game full of confidence. Not only that, they took 6 of the last 9 games against St. Louis and are ready to entertain a fanbase that has been starved for decades! This is a false favorite situation in our opinion since the underdogs are more than capable of winning and should edge a close game.




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