Nationals vs. Cubs prediction and odds for Monday, July 17 (Back Lane vs. lefties)

The numbers say that the Cubs are trending towards having a good second half of the season, but they're off to a bad start and it could get worse today.
Washington Nationals outfielder Lane Thomas (28)
Washington Nationals outfielder Lane Thomas (28) / Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t an ideal weekend for the Chicago Cubs who fell to 43-49 after losing two of three to the Boston Red Sox, but things could start to turn around for the third place team in the NL Central with the Washington Nationals in town for three games.

Washington is 37-56 after losing two of three against another NL Central team, the St. Louis Cardinals. 

For Game 1 it’ll be two lefties on the mound as Mackenzie Gore starts opposite Drew Smyly. Gore is 4-7 for Washington with a 4.42 ERA in 18 starts and Smyly is 7-6 in his 18 starts with a 4.31 ERA. The Cubs are home favorites tonight, so let’s take a look at the odds. 

Nationals vs. Cubs odds, run line and total

Nationals vs. Cubs prediction and pick

The Cubs are a trendy pick to have a turnaround in the second half and I actually bet them to win the NL Central over the All-Star break. Now, the start to the second half wasn’t great, but the Red Sox are nearly unstoppable offensively right now, so taking one game might be a positive thing. 

Despite being third in the division the Cubs are the only team in the Central with a positive run differential and an expected win/loss record above .500 at 48-44. That’s all good news for Chicago long term and for this series. The Nationals are not a good team so Chicago should handle their business, just maybe not tonight. 

The Nationals are top 10 in OPS against lefties this season at .771 and a lot of that is because of Lane Thomas who has a 1.076 OPS against left-handed pitching with seven home runs and nine doubles in 115 at-bats. The Cubs just do not match up well against lefties, so Washington will have the edge until we get deeper into the game and get to the bullpens.

The Cubs are 14th in team OPS for the year at .760, but since June 1, they are 24th with a .690 OPS. Dandy Swanson is on the 10-day IL and could be their best matchup against a lefty like Gore. 

The Cubs are the better team and I like them to have a good second half, but the rocky start to it will continue tonight. 

Follow all Josh Yourish’s bets HERE

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change