Braves vs. Nationals Pick MLB – April 14th

We took a swing for the fences and came up short last night.  The Cubbies, despite a historical weakness against Alfredo Simon, made mincemeat of the Reds starter, sending him to the showers before he could escape the first inning in what was LITERALLY the WORST single inning of the long-time hurler’s career.  It was never really a game after that and the Cubbies cruised to a 9-2 victory and pushed their record to a daunting 7-1.  It will be interesting to see if they can cap off the sweep tonight against the Reds’ Opening Day starter, the 2-0 Rasiel Iglesias.

Elsewhere in the National League, pitching continued to reign supreme in Flushing Meadows as the Mets and Marlins flip-flopped their 2-1 score of the day before, this time the Mets coming out on top.  The Mets moved to just 3-5 this season, due largely to a .194 team batting average and under three runs per game.  But assuming their bats wake up eventually, their pitching appears to be more than ready for a repeat playoff run.  Either way, their bats better awaken relatively soon, as the Nationals look more like the team we THOUGHT they could be a year ago than the non-playoff team they actually were.  They blanked the Braves (0-8 record) yesterday to move to 6-1.  Amazingly, they have only tallied 26 runs in seven games and are tenth in batting at .248 – but their 2.25 ERA is the best in the league by a lot.  Both the Nats and Mets have been the same story through a week and a half – albeit with different records.  It will be interesting to see whose offense can wake up first…

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Today’s Free Pick:

Atlanta Braves +150 at Washington Nationals -160 (Total: 7.5)

Julio Tehran vs. Stephen Strasburg

Tehran’s first outing of the season wasn’t a good one, but if the Braves are going to win any games this year, they are going to need to perk up when Tehran has the ball.  He has All-Star level stuff when he is on, and with a slumping Nats lineup this evening, he has a chance to have a nice outing.

The problem is, his offense has been non-existent.  The Braves are hitting .199 as a team and averaging 2.75 runs per contest.  Add in Strasburg, who was excellent in his first start, allowing just a single run in six innings, and they might need Tehran to be near-perfect tonight.  That’s asking a lot and I don’t think they’ll get the perfection they hope for.  It looks like a franchise-depressing ninth straight loss to open the season and lots of “Greg Maddux ain’t walking through that door.  Chipper Jones ain’t walking through that door” snarky Twitter jokes.   It is going to be a long, long season in the ATL and getting swept early by the rival Nats won’t help perk up any enthusiasm.

However, Tehran gives them a puncher’s chance, and -160 is a little steep for my liking given how non-existent the Nats’ offense has been the last two nights.  This would be a sixth-straight win over Atlanta to start the season, so either way, Atlanta will be glad to bid Washington farewell after today’s 4pm matinee.  I like it to be a quick, low-scoring affair.

QUICK NOTE – Stasburg was scratched yesterday due to illness, and all books and lines have HIM listed as the starter.  IF he is scratched, keep an eye on the line.  With the Braves anemic bats, I am not necessarily AGAINST the UNDER even without Stras, and you may even pick up another run as cushion –  but it is definitely something to keep an eye on.  And of course, in baseball, it is plenty easy to place your wager so it is contingent upon the starting pitching matchup (i.e. IF Strasburg is scratched, the wager is no-action)

Free Pick: Run TOTAL UNDER 7.5

Chris Scheeren / Author