We started the weekend with a winner late night as the Reds and Pirates easily tucked under the total, even with some late dramatic runs by both sides that culminate in a Sean Rodriguez walkoff homerun. The Gatorade watercooler lives to fight another day! (Google – Sean Rodriguez vs. water cooler if that joke escapes you, or if you just need a little laugh). Despite the loss, DeSclafani took a no-decision to keep his perfect 6-0 record in tact. I find it especially interesting to have an undefeated starter who isn’t a big name on a team that will likely lose over 90 games. But as long as he keeps flying under the radar, he remains a nice wagering opportunity for us…
In other NL news, the Nationals dispatched the Giants in an easy 5-1 win, continuing the Giants slide and the Nationals surge. If Washington can take one or both of the remaining weekend games, they put themselves in a situation where it is looking more and more like they and the Cubs battling for home field in the NLCS. Meanwhile, the Dodgers can’t seem to capitalize. They got shutout at home by Boston to remain two games back in the NL West.
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Today’s Free Pick:
San Francisco Giants +194 at Washington Nationals -212 (Total: 8)
Matt Cain (3-6, 5.53 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (15-1, 2.63 ERA)
Just starting with the pitching matchups, there is NO reason to assume the respective momentum for each of these ball clubs is going to change today. Matt Cain has been unable to recapture his early 2010’s form this season and has gotten battered most of the year. Meanwhile, Strasburg flirted with longest unbeaten streak records before finally taking a single L en route to a spectacular 15-1 record with accompanying stellar 2.63 ERA.
This thing has BLOWOUT written all over it; forget the relatively even over team matchup. Strasburg gives the Nats a massive edge. The Nats are 8-2 in his last ten starts and Stras has delivered a quality start in six of his last seven outings. Over that span, he has struck out 51 batters, and with the exception of literally his ONLY bad start this season (6 ER), he has allowed one or zero earned runs in every start.
Meanwhile, Matt Cain hasn’t had a quality start since May 25th. The numbers are a little misleading, as he missed a month with injury, but he has either gotten hit or gone to the showers conservatively early in all his recent outings. In his most recent start, he DID throw five shutout innings against these same Nats, but I look for the tables to turn today with a second crack at Cain, this time in Washington. In his four starts since injury, he has only 13 K’s against 11 BBs. The devastating pitch assortment and power are long gone, and ‘nibbling’ hasn’t suited the once-dominating hurler.
The Nationals have not only won eight of ten with Stras on the bump, they have won many of those games with room to spare. Only one of those eight wins did NOT cover the -1.5 runline, and I nthat game Strasburg left having only allowed one run before some bullpen issues allowed a 5-4 final. That was before Melancon was on board. Expect the door to be more firmly shut this afternoon.
The regular line for the Nats is so wide it is a waste of time. But you can get the runline at a surprisingly low price of just -106 at betonline.com. Other places have it dancing in the -120 to -125 range, which is still a pretty fair price with Strasburg looking to continue his personal dominance against the struggling Giants.