A key series between two National League playoff contenders will start Friday at Wrigley Field when the Chicago Cubs (66-48) host the Washington Nationals (59-56) as solid home favorites at the sportsbooks.
The Cubs lead the NL Central by two games over the Milwaukee Brewers, while the Nationals are chasing the Atlanta Braves for the league's second wild-card spot in the NL East.
MLB betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 4.6-4.5, Cubs (MLB picks on every game)
Why the Nationals can pay on the MLB lines
Washington was seemingly out of the playoff race until going 10-5 over the team's last 15 games to get back over the .500 mark.
The Nationals were also hoping to gain some ground on the Braves earlier this week but ended up splitting a four-game set at home, capped by a 6-3 victory on Thursday.
The Nationals will now count on veteran starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (5-2, 3.56 ERA) to help them open their fifth consecutive series with a win.
The 31-year-old is coming off a victory against the Cincinnati Reds last Saturday, allowing two runs on two solo home runs as part of four hits overall in 5.2 innings.
Why the Cubs can pay on the MLB lines
Chicago will counter Hellickson with a hot Kyle Hendricks (8-9, 4.07 ERA), who will be going for his third straight victory.
The Cubs are 4-1 in the previous five starts for the 28-year-old, and he has given up three runs or less in six of his past seven outings.
Known for performing well at Wrigley, the righty has a 4-6 mark and 3.75 ERA in 12 starts there this season, with opposing batters hitting .237 against him.
Between 2015 and 2017, Kendricks went 15-8 with a 2.56 ERA at Wrigley as well, so home field has been an advantage for him and his teammates when has been on the mound.
Smart betting pick
These teams have alternated wins and losses in the past 10 meetings, including last year's NL Division Series matchup. Chicago topped Washington 3-2 despite not having the home-field edge, and this will be the first time they square off this season.
However, the Cubs are 6-3 in the previous nine games played versus the Nationals at Wrigley, according to the OddsShark MLB Database, and that will be the difference here.
MLB betting trends
Washington is 7-16 SU in its last 23 games on the road.
The total has gone under in 11 of Washington's last 16 games on the road.
The total has gone under in four of Chicago's last five games.
All MLB odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report's official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.