The Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals close out the weekend on Sunday Night Baseball at Nationals Park. Looking at the card today, this one certainly looks like the most attractive game to put on in primetime. Perhaps it would have been better if the Nationals had a good team, though. They go into the final game of the weekend with a record of 19-26.
The Nationals trail the Phillies by 7 games for 1st. That isn’t likely going to change much as the season progresses. They’re only likely to fall back even further, because I don’t think the Phillies or Braves have played their best baseball yet. Again, as I’ve said in the past, it isn’t so much of a case of no Bryce Harper, but more so a terrible bullpen and starting cast that has been erratic other than guys named Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Even then, Scherzer hasn’t been as dominant as we’ve seen in the past.
Harper was awful last season around this time, similar to what he’s doing this year to open the season. So, to attribute their slow start to no Bryce Harper is ludicrous. Looking at bullpens isn’t the flashiest things to do for the average fan, though. The Nationals found a 5-2 win on Saturday after getting blasted by a score of 14-6 the day prior. Stephen Strasburg was on point as he went 8 innings, allowing just 4 hits and 1 run.
Going from Strasburg to Jeremy Hellickson in the rotation is part of the problem for the Nationals. Hellickson has been struggling mightily and hasn’t been the most reliable option for Washington this season. He had a productive 2018, but he’s one of those guys you wonder whether the floor is going to give out on him. Hellickson will try and get things under control this evening against the Cubs. He faces a red-hot Kyle Hendricks in this contest. Head below for our free Cubs vs. Nationals pick.
Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals Pick:
Betting odds provided by bovada.lv
Kyle Hendricks has been the hottest pitcher for the Cubs recently. If you’re not a Cubs’ fan or paying attention, his performances lately would have been easy to miss. Hendricks has been on fire with an ERA of 0.36 and 0.52 WHIP in his previous three games. Across his last 25 innings has given up only 1 run and 12 hits. The 7 runs he allowed against the Diamondbacks in Arizona must have woken him up.
Overall, Hendricks carries a 2.86 ERA and 1.15 WHIP into Sunday Night Baseball. His effort on the road has been less than adequate, though, with a 5.91 ERA. That said, it hasn’t mattered recently, as he had one of his best outings of the year in Cincinnati. He went 8 innings, allowing 1 run and only 3 hits against the Reds.
The Nationals go into Sunday with 4.47 runs scored per game, 19th in MLB. Well of the pace that the Cubs are scoring at with an average of 5.4 per game for 4th in the majors. The real downside for the Nationals has been their bullpen, though.
They’ve had heaps of issues getting outs and helping out their friends who start games. Washington are 30th with a horrific ERA of 6.77 in 131.2 innings pitched. There are a lot of bad relievers in baseball and a lot of them belong in the Nats’ pen.
On the other side, the Cubs are 11th in the majors with an ERA of 3.94. Hellickson may not offer much help to his anemic bullpen in this one. He has been bashed around for a 6.28 ERA in his last three outings and has been awful at home with an 8.04 ERA and 1.79 WHIP. If you’re looking for an MLB pick to end your day on Sunday evening, expect the Cubs to close out the day with a win in Washington.