Sometimes the books just post a bad number. That was the case yesterday when the Washington Nationals were inexplicably favored over the Atlanta Braves. The Braves were starting Mike Foltynewicz, who was just named to his first National League All-Star team this season, and the Nats were starting some guy named Tommy Milone that was making just his third start of the year, after getting called up to cover for the injured Steven Strasburg. On top of all that, the Braves are just the much better team in my opinion and had quietly won seven out of their last nine games entering play last night. I was definitely surprised to see them like dogs when the number posted.
And after watching the game, I still don’t know what the books saw in Washington last night. Foltynewicz was solid, he pitched five and two-thirds of an inning and allowed just one earned run. And Milone got hammered as I expected he would. All told, Milone gave up seven runs, all earned, in six innings of work and picked up the loss.
Every once in a while, the books just miss a number. It happens rarely, but when it does you need to make sure that you hit it and hit it hard with a multi-unit bet. When the books slip up, you have to take full advantage of it. For today’s bet I will stay right here in Washington D.C. for the series finale between the Nationals and the Braves.
The Atlanta Braves are in the nation’s capital Thursday for game four of a four-game series with the Nationals. The Braves have taken two straight in the series after dropping game one. With the win last night, Atlanta is now just a half of a game back of the Philadelphia Phillies for first place in the National League East Division. The Phillies are off today, so if Atlanta wins, they could pull into a first-place tie atop the division. The Nationals are struggling to keep their heads above water at this point, as they fall to now six games back in the NL East with the loss.
Starting today for the Braves is Anibal Sanchez (6-3 2.89 era), and for the Nationals, it is Gio Gonzalez (6-8 4.04 ERA). The Nationals are -119 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at nine runs. First pitch is scheduled for 10:05 AM PST from Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
Anibal Sanchez has found the fountain of youth this season in Atlanta. The thirty-four-year-old veteran is having his best season since 2014 and has provided some much-needed veteran leadership in the clubhouse for this baby Braves team. Sanchez has yet to give up more than four runs in any one start this season and has allowed two runs or fewer in ten of his fifteen starts.
That level of production is more than enough for the Braves to win a lot when he pitches as they have one of the best hitting lineups in the National League. The Braves have won nine out of the last thirteen games where Sanchez has started. Sanchez has faced this Nationals team three times this year and has solid results. In a combined sixteen innings of work this season against Washington, Sanchez has allowed just three earned runs.
Gio Gonzalez started out his season on fire. Through May, Gonzalez looked like he could be a Cy Young Award candidate as he had an ERA of just 2.10 in eleven starts. But it has been downhill from there for Gonzalez. In June, Gio had a brutal run as he went 0-3 with an 8.44 ERA. In July, he was a little better as he went 0-2 with a 4.08 ERA. And then in his first start this month he got hammered by the Cincinnati Reds for six runs in just over three innings of work.
Here is a shocking statistic, Gonzalez hasn’t picked up a winning decision since May! The guy has gone two and a half months without picking up a win, and the Nationals are just 3-8 in those starts since his last win on May 28th.
This is another number that just doesn’t add up for me. The Braves have taken two in a row in this series and are poised to make three straight today. Yet they are the underdogs again? Why? Gio Gonzalez is a complete mess right now, the guy just can’t figure out how to lead his team to a win, and Anibal Sanchez is inexplicably pitching at a very high level.
Earlier this season I kept betting against Sanchez assuming that at some point he would come back to earth. But at this point, you just have to say that the guy is good again. I’m not sure how, but the guy is pitching at a high level, and after fourteen starts I am going to just have to start giving this guy some credit.
I like Atlanta in this game, a lot. This feels very similar to last night’s game. The Braves are the better team, they are all the sudden red hot again, and I think they find a way to beat the Nats today in the series finale. They found a way to beat Max Scherzer, so beating up on Gio Gonzalez should be a piece of cake. Give me the Atlanta Braves as small road underdogs tonight in game four from Nationals Park at +109!