The Chicago Cubs will look to climb to two games above .500 when they face off against the Washington Nationals tonight. The Cubs will send out Drew Smyly (2-1, 3.21 ERA), while the Nationals will counter with MacKenzie Gore (3-1, 3.00 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.
The Cubs are -135 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while the Nationals are +115 underdogs. The total is set at 8.5.
Cubs-Nationals picks: Monday, May 1st
Out: Jameson Taillon (left groin strain), SP Kyle Hendricks (right shoulder strain)
Out: INF Ildemaro Vargas (left shoulder sprain), LF Corey Dickerson (left calf strain), 3B Carter Kieboom (Tommy John surgery), C Israel Pineda (right pinkie tip displacement)
Drew Smyly vs. MacKenzie Gore
Smyly’s coming off a strong April that peaked when he threw 7.2 no-hit innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 21. Smyly’s pitching style is built around limiting hard contact, as he ranks in the 96th percentile in exit velocity, the 92nd percentile in hard hit rate and the 92nd percentile in expected ERA. He’s a two-pitch pitcher, with hitters averaging .217 on his sinker and .196 on his curveball.
Gore ended April on the right path, as he went six innings in his last two starts, with the most recent being six innings of one run ball with 10 strikeouts in a win against the New York Mets. Gore’s curveball is quickly turning into one of the best pitches in baseball, as the lefty has a put-away percentage of 30% on the pitch, while batters are averaging just .125.
This is a battle of trends, as the Cubs cleared the under in two of their three games against the Marlins, while the Nationals cleared this over in all three of their games over the weekend against the Pirates. I’m taking the under here, in large part because the Cubs are facing off against Gore after struggling over the weekend against Miami. On the other side, the Nationals offense is also working through their own struggles (they scored 11 runs in total over their three-game series), and should struggle against Smyly.
Pick: Under 8.5
After getting swept over the weekend, the Cubs should be itching for a win, and I’m banking on them to pick one up. With neither offense having a ton of familiarity against the other pitcher (Michael Chavis is the only player on either team to have a home run against the opposing starter), I’m picking the Cubs’ talent to win out.