Washington Nationals +125 at Philadelphia Phillies -135 (Total: 8.5)
John Lannan vs. Kyle Kendrick
Going into tonight, the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies are in vasly different positions, but both needing wins for important reasons. The Phillies need is obvious; it’s do-or-die time and time has nearly run out on their improbable comeback run for the postseason. Trailing the Cards by 5 ½ with just eight games to play, they need to run the table and pray for a miracle. They are hoping young Kyle Kendrick can be the catalyst to get that miracle run started tonight (and given the past season in MLB, I’m not willing to say anything is impossible).
The Nationals are playing for a much different reason. They have already clinched a playoff berth and are all but certainly going to win the NL East, though Atlanta at just four back is close enough to cause some concern. Not only are they keeping a watchful eye on getting caught, they are also making a push towards securing the #1 overall seed for the playoffs. They are in a dead-heat with the Cincinnati Reds at 93-61 with eight games remaining. A 5-3 finish guarantees a division win and their likely target (at a minimum) to keep them competitive with the Reds.
The Phillies have an edge tonight in the pitching department facing John Lannan. In his 17 career starts against Philly he is just 2-12 with a 5.79 ERA. His .143 winning percentage is actually the WORST against the Phillies for any pitcher with 12 or more starts since 1921. Let’s just say when you are the single worst pitcher in ANY category in nearly 100 years, it’s not a real good stat…
Meanwhile Kendrick has pitched well against the Nats. He is 2-1 lifetime with a 2.21 ERA in his last six starts against them. In fact, the only Nat who has hit him well this season is the rookie Bryce Harper who is four for seven with a pair of doubles. Everyone else in the starting lineup is well under .300. Assuming Kendrick can keep that momentum up tonight, it looks favorable for Philadelphia to keep the dream alive at least another few days.
The pitching stats alone is enough to make Philly seem like a pretty good bargain at -135, but I’d also give the edge to their offense. Philly has been scoring plenty of runs, which isn’t terrible surprising now that they are finally healthy. Say what you want about Ryan Howard’s batting average, but the guys simply knocks in runs. Projected out over a full season of at bats, the big guy is once again on pace for over 100 RBI’s. I like him and the Phills to get a few RBI’s tonight and win their first of many “must-win” games tonight.
Free Pick: Philadelphia Phillies -135