October 25, 2016
There is one pick tonight.
Take Chicago Cubs (-105) on the ML against Cleveland Indians risking 3.15% to win 3%.
(Lester must start for wager to have action)
The wait is over. The World Series start tonight and Game 1 is set to take place at Progressive Field. Cleveland fans have a lot to be excited about tonight and some might even jump from venue to venue as the Cavaliers will also open up their season as defending NBA champs at the 'Q' nearby! There is a lot of distractions for these hosts and it wouldn't surprise us if the visitors took advantage.
Jon Lester gets the ball for the Cubs and has an excellent chance of out-dueling Corey Kluber tonight. That's because while both pitchers are quality veteran hurlers, one is far more established when it comes to post-season pedigree. Lester has pitched winning efforts in the World Series before and has been a 'big-game' pitcher for years now. His teams have usually made it to the playoffs and relied on him as their 'Ace'. That's no different this year despite the presence of Jake Arrieta and some other outstanding talent in this rotation. The fact that Joe Maddon and the coaching staff peg Lester as their #1 starter again in this series shows just how much confidence they have in him.
Kluber is a methodical pitcher whom much like Lester has the right temperament to succeed. He's rarely rattled and keeps a composed mindset at all times. He's not anywhere as experienced when it comes to post-season matchups such as this however, despite his veteran status. Playoff games and in particular the World Series bring with them a different level of 'pressure' and media attention and while we expect Kluber to handle it okay, we do give the edge in this department to Cubs lefty Jon Lester. This is no doubt the biggest start of Kluber's career and nerves may be somewhat of a factor in the earlygoings before he settles down. If Chicago bats can jump on his mistakes in the first couple of innings, they will have a nice early lead.
The biggest factor that gives Lester and company the edge however is that they are well rested but NOT rusty. The same can't be said about Corey Kluber and the Indians. That's because Lester last pitched on October 20th, which means he's getting the ball on the fifth day after 4 days of rest as pitchers normally would. Kluber, on the other hand, last pitched a week ago and has had a couple of additional days of rest. That may sound like it's beneficial but any MLB starter will tell you that it's not. These guys are all creatures of habit and routine and in order for them to be rested but keep their timing and rhythm, they would prefer to be on the hill every fifth day. For Kluber, that won't be the case and when you consider that his previous start came after just 3 days of rest, it means his routine has been more altered than he would have liked. That's because in his last start against the Blue Jays, he was pitching on short rest (3 days) before having to sit out for 6 full days before taking the mound again tonight. These factors lead us to believe that Lester will likely be sharper than Kluber and likely outduel and outlast him. If the Cubs bullpen, which has been normally solid doesn't suddenly let them down in this game, we believe the visitors hold the edge.
The 'rust' factor is not only a concern for pitcher Kluber but the Cleveland Indians, as a whole. The team last took the field on Oct 19th! Defensive (fielding) errors are more common after such a lengthy layoff and of course that can also affect their bats. Terry Francona admitted that the nearly full week off from competitive action could have some of the hitters out of rhythm. 'Timing' is everything when it comes to hitting and the extra days off has no doubt altered the timing of some of these bats. The Cubs, on the other hand, last played 3 days ago which means they had two full days of rest to come into this game fresh and energetic, while still keeping their game shape and routine. Cleveland should be the more rusty team in this contest and on top of that, has all the pressure on it, given that this is their first game back at Progressive Field in 10 days in front of what will be a demanding crowd. These fans are starved for success having watched their team not win a title for 68 years! The Indians haven't made it to the Fall Classic in a long time and even when they did, they came up bitterly disappointed in the 90's. The pressure is on the hosts in this opening game and that might not bode well for bats and arms that may have gone 'cold' and need warming up with a couple of games. We expect the Cubs to play more loose and free and win this opener.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Lester owns a career 2.5 ERA in post-season games!
- Cubs won 15 of 20 inter-league games during the regular season.
- Lester is 7-1 with a 3.03 career ERA in 15 previous starts against Cleveland!
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