Nationals at Phillies – Free Pick August 25th

Washington Nationals +102 at Philadelphia Phillies -110 (Total: 7)

Gio Gonzalez (16-6, 2.32 ERA) vs. Roy Halliday (7-7, 3.95 ERA)

Tonight’s matchup features a fantastic pitching duel as Gio Gonzalez attempts to earn his major league-leading seventeenth win, while Doc Halliday will try to bounce back from a mediocre performance (albeit a 12-5 win over Cincinnati) and regain the form he has in the previous three outings where he was nearly untouchable.

Despite the lowly record and fact they have long since been realistically eliminated from the playoffs, wagerers would be wise to avoid underestimating the Phillies.  This is still a team loaded with talent and armed with one of the better starting rotations in the National League.  The problem is, for most of the season, that talent was on the disabled list.  Now as we near September the Phillies finally have their roster intact (except for what they dumped at the trade deadline) and are beginning to play decent baseball.  They have won five of their last seven, and 13 of 20.  This is a team poised to play the spoiler role down the stretch and then quickly turn the page to 2013.

The Nats will try to avoid being “spoiled” but sending their less-heralded ace to the mound.  Gio Gonzalez is 16-6 with a 3.23 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, and has been even sharper of late, going 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA in his last three outings.   Here’s a very telling stat about not just the stuff, but also the mental makeup of Gio Gonzalez; in his last five outings as a road underdog, he is a PERFECT 5-0.  Meaning every time he travelled to face a difficult matchup, he ratcheted up his game and got the job done.  I think he will do the same thing tonight.

The Phillies, as potent as they are offensively, have had their struggles against left-handed pitching.  They are batting just .230 as a team against southpaws, and Gonzalez happens to be one the of the best ones in the business.   I like the Nationals to scratch out just enough offense against Halliday to let Gio take care of the rest.

This Washington team is resilient.  They are an impressive 16-5 in games following a loss (which means there have been very few extended losing streaks to speak of).  That’s how you surge out to the best record in all of major league baseball.

Just like the Nationals, I like us to bounce back tonight after yesterday’s tough Tampa 5-4 loss, and get back to our winning ways.  Give me the Nats to win tonight on the road with a nice favorable positive moneyline.

Free Pick:  Washington Nationals to WIN +102

Chris Scheeren / Author