We picked up a big double win last night on the Cardinals and Pirates game. We backed the Cardinals at even money, and the under eight runs and both sides came in easily. I really liked how Cardinals starter John Gant had been pitching over his last several starts, and he continued his dominance last night. Gant pitched five and two-thirds shutout innings and picked up the win for his efforts.
The Cards scored early and often and by the fifth inning had built up a 5-0 lead and coasted to the win. I took the under in all three games of this series and cashed all three tickets. The Cardinals are desperately undermanned at the moment, with several key offensive players on the DL, but their pitching staff has been carrying them through the adversity, and they are continuing their unlikely climb up the standings.
With the win, the Cardinals have now won a franchise record ten straight series and occupy the first wild-card slot in a very crowded National League playoff chase. For the Pirates, they have fallen completely out of the race for the playoffs and last night’s loss was their twelve in sixteen games. For today’s pick, I will stay in the National League as I break down the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Washington Nationals.
The Milwaukee Brewers head to Washington Friday for the opening game of a three-game set with the Nationals. The Brewers are trying to stay hot as they have won their last three series and are winners of eight out of their last eleven games overall. The Nationals are desperately trying to stay in the thick of the playoff race but have been treading water recently and are struggling to make up ground.
Starting tonight for the Brewers is Jhoulys Chacin (13-5 3.61 ERA), and for the Nationals, it is Tanner Roark (8-13 3.95 ERA). The Nationals are -114 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at nine runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM PST from Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
Jhoulys Chacin has been pitching quite well over the last two months. With the one exception where he got smashed by the Dodgers, this guy has pitched well and is winning a lot of games for the Brewers. Chacin has allowed three runs or fewer in a start in nine out of his last eleven starts. He has been prone to a blow-up start here and there this season, but the vast majority of the time, Chacin is going to give his team a chance to win games.
Chacin has one start against the Nationals this season, and he pitched well. On July 23rd, he pitched five and two-thirds innings, allowed just one run on only two hits and struck out nine. He picked up the win for his efforts. Chacin will be seeing a very different Nationals lineup than a month ago as the Nats have made several moves recently to deplete their lineup.
The Nationals have dumped several key players recently. Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams were both moved on waiver trades, and Brandon Kintzler was traded at the trade deadline in late July. The new look Nats responded to the trade of two of their best starting players by going on a thirty-two-inning scoreless streak. They have snapped back out of that slump somewhat recently, but make no mistake, this lineup lost a lot of its pop, and they are going to struggle to produce runs the rest of the way out.
On July 13th, Tanner Roark was 3-12 with a 4.87 ERA. He was amongst the worst starting pitchers in the National League at that point. Since then, he has gotten his act together in a big way as he is 5-1 and has lowered his ERA nearly a full run to 3.95. Roark has pitched pretty well and has been the recipient of some huge run support.
In that six-game stretch, the Nats scored fifty-eight runs in support of Roark. That is nearly ten runs a game, highlighted by the 25-run explosion they had on July 31st. However, in his one start since Adams and Murphy were traded away, the Nats got shutout, and he picked up the loss despite the fact that he pitched very well.
It is hard to bet against Tanner Roark right now as the guy is pitching his brains out and has an ERA of just 1.51 in his last seven starts. But this Washington team seems to be on the verge of collapse. They tore the heart of their lineup out with trades and pissed off their superstar Bryce Harper by floating his name in trade talks as well. Things are just not happy in Washington right now.
Throw in the fact that they are almost certainly out of contention at this point, I see them losing a lot of games down the stretch. The Nats start a ten-game homestand tonight where they host the Brewers, Cardinals, and Cubs. Those are three of the best teams the National League has to offer, and I see them really struggling. After the homestand? They head to Philly and Atlanta for series.
We haven’t seen the collapse just yet, but you can rest assured that when the smoke clears on the Nats next twenty or so games, they won’t have won very many of them. And that starts tonight with the Brewers. I am not going to let Tanner Roark’s recent stretch of good results hide the fact that this guy led the NL in losses just over a month ago.
Chacin has been solid, and I have to give him the nod in this one, especially when you factor in this Nats lineup that just got gutted. Washington has always been a good home team, and that gives me a little bit of pause, but in the end, I still like the Brewers in this one. Give me the Milwaukee Brewers as road underdogs tonight in game one in Washington!