WASHINGTON NATIONALS (92-70)
at CHICAGO CUBS (97-65)
NLDS – Game 4 - Wrigley Field – Chicago, IL
First pitch: Tuesday, 5:40 p.m. ET
Line: Washington +140, Chicago -150, Total: 7.5
The Cubs will be looking to close out the series with a victory over the Nationals in Game 4 on Tuesday.
Washington had a 1-0 lead late in Game 3, but Chicago ended up coming back and taking control of the series. Prior to last game, it looked like the Nationals were the team that was in better shape. They might have split wins in D.C., but they also had ace Max Scherzer on the mound in Game 4. That hardly matters now, though. The Cubs are now going to be in a situation where they can end this series with a win at home, and they will not be nervous at all here. The starters in this Tuesday night meeting are going to be RHP Tanner Roark (13-11, 4.67 ERA, 166 K) for Washington and RHP Jake Arrieta (14-10, 3.53 ERA, 163 K) for Chicago. The edge on the mound here definitely looks like it goes to the Cubs, as Arrieta is the team’s former ace and has his fair share of big game experience. The Nationals will, however, be open to Roark giving them just a short outing here, as they could really bring any of their rested starters in for some relief work. It’s do-or-die for the Nationals, so they’re going to be willing to pull out all the stops in order to extend their season.
The Nationals are facing elimination on Wednesday, which means that Tanner Roark has very little margin for error in this game. One thing that should get Roark amped up for this one is the fact that he was excellent in his last trip to Wrigley Field. He started against the Cubs in Chicago on Aug. 4, when he threw 6.1 innings of two-run ball. Another outing like that would certainly be much appreciated by the Nationals in this game, but they really only need him to go four or five innings in this one. As for the Nationals offense, the team can’t win this game unless the superstars come ready to play. That was not the case on Monday, when the Nationals’ only run was unearned. Washington needs OF Bryce Harper, 2B Daniel Murphy, and 1B Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman drove in the run on Monday, but he’ll need to come ready to do it once again in this one. Harper and Murphy, however, did not do anything in Game 3. If they don’t show up in Game 4 then they’ll hear about it all offseason.
The Cubs are looking to advance to the NLCS with a victory on Tuesday and Jake Arrieta will be the guy tasked with getting them through this one. Arrieta was once the guy that the Cubs would feel comfortable throwing out there in a Game 1, but he’s now just the best fourth starter in baseball. While he is no longer pitching like the perennial Cy Young candidate he was a few years ago, he’s certainly still a top of the rotation guy. The righty also happens to be pitching well as of late, as he has gone 14 straight games without allowing four or more earned runs. He did, however, allow five earned runs in six innings in his only start against the Nationals this year. He knows he needs to be better than that and both he and his teammates will certainly be expecting him to be. Offensively, any of these Cubs can easily step it up in this one. 1B Anthony Rizzo is, however, the one to keep an eye on here. Rizzo had the game-winning hit in the bottom of the eighth on Monday. He has been as clutch as could be for the Cubs and that should continue here.