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Nationals at Brewers – MLB Pick for August 31st

The Washington Nationals head to Milwaukee for a big four game series with the Brewers. The Nationals come into this series piping hot after sweeping the Marlins in a three-game series earlier in the week with a combined score of 23-5. The Brewers will send young right hander Zach Davies (15-7 3.91 ERA) to the mound to try and slow down Washington tonight in game one. The Nationals will counter with a resurgent Gio Gonzalez (13-5 2.40 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 PM PST from Miller Park in Milwaukee.

Today’s MLB Pick:

Washington Nationals -102 at Milwaukee Brewers -118 (Total: 9)
Gio Gonzalez (13-5, 2.40 ERA) vs. Zach Davies (15-7, 3.91 ERA)

The Washington Nationals have been great all season long. They started running away with the National League East title on opening day and haven’t looked back. They currently hold a close to insurmountable 15 game lead over the Miami Marlins for the division title. The scary part? They are getting better.

After adding a bunch of much-needed depth to what was a shaky bullpen, the Nationals have emerged as true World Series contenders. All three of their new bullpen additions, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, and Brandon Kintzler have dazzled, and the Nationals have the second-best team ERA in the majors since the July 31st trade deadline, trailing only Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller’s Cleveland Indians. And now they are starting to get healthy too!

The Nationals have been banged up in the baseballs second half but that hasn’t slowed them down, and now they are getting healthy. Starting shortstop and lead off man Trea Turner has finally returned after missing 51 games this season. The same Trea Turner that hit .342 last year in his first full season in the majors, the Nationals were a top three offensive team this year without the slashing youngster, what are they going to look like with Turner added to the top of the lineup?  Jayson Werth and Max Scherzer are slated to come off the DL this week and superstar Bryce Harper should be back in plenty of the times for the playoffs. The Nationals are getting better and healthier by the day, and for my money, I think they will represent the National League in the World Series this year, sorry Dodger fans. One of the big reasons for the Nationals success this year? The reemergence of one Gio Gonzalez.

Gio Gonzalez has been a very strong pitcher over the course of his career, with some flashes of brilliance. Flashes like winning 52 games over a three year stretch with the Oakland Athletics and Washington Nationals, including the apex season in 2012 that saw Gio go 21-8 with just a 2.89 ERA. But what Gonzalez is doing this year may be his best work yet. Gonzalez is 13-5, and his 2.40 ERA is third in the majors behind only teammate Max Scherzer and the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw, both of which are currently on the DL so it wouldn’t be much of an overstatement to say that Gonzalez is the best pitcher in the National League right now. In his last five starts, Gonzalez has been basically unhittable, going 5-0 with a 0.79 ERA. He is having a great year and right now is in rare form. His opponent tonight for the Brewers, Zach Davies, is no slouch either.

Davies is enjoying a breakout season for the Brewers and is a big reason why they find themselves in the hunt for both the National League Central Division title as well as the National League wild card. Entering play today the Brewers are just 3.5 games back of the Cubs for the division lead and 3 games back of the Colorado Rockies for the NL wild card. Davies’ 15 wins are tied for the most in the National League, and his sub four ERA of 3.91 is more than respectful. Davies is having a bit of an up and down month. In his last starts against the Dodgers, he tossed 7 shutout innings, giving up only three hits in the win. Two starts before that in Minnesota? He got rocked for 7 runs in 5.2 innings. Davies has been prone to the occasional blow-up game as he has five starts this year where he gave up five or more earned runs. If he can find a little more consistency moving forward, you can expect big things out of Zach Davies.

This is a tight game between two good teams. But don’t fool yourself, the Nationals are the much better team in this one. The Brewers have managed to compete and hang around the top of the standings this year, but the Nationals are dominating and are on fire at the moment. Until Gio Gonzalez slows down a little bit, you can expect me to back him every five days. This line has moved all over the place, I saw it last night at Brewers -110 and jumped all over it. Then, I saw it this morning at Nationals -110, and I added on a little more. The current line I see is Washington +110, and I am all over it. You may want to line shop a little bit on this one as it’s all over the place, but Washington is going to be the side you want to be on. Give me the Nationals tonight on the road in Milwaukee as small underdogs +110.
PICK: Washington +110

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