Nationals vs Braves – MLB Pick for April 3rd

The Washington Nationals are in Atlanta for game two of a three-game series with the Braves. The Nats won easily last night, 8-1, behind a dominant start from Tanner Roark. Roark pitched seven strong innings, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out six.

The Nationals offense was booming as well, Bryce Harper homered and had three RBI to go with four walks. Starting tonight for Washington is A.J. Cole (0-0 0.00 ERA), for the Brave they will send out their opening day arm, Julio Teheran (0-0 6.35 ERA).

The Nationals are -128 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at nine runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:35 PMP ST from SunTrust Park in Atlanta.

The Washington Nationals are going to be really good this year. Their rotation is probably the best in the majors, and their lineup has power up and down it. They are as balanced of a team as there is this season.

After a weeks’ worth of play, the Nationals are leading the majors in runs scored and are second in on-base percentage and home runs. Their pitching has been elite as well, they are top six in the land in both ERA and WHIP. This team has no real weakness at this point.

A big reason for the Nationals early season success has been the play of MVP candidate Bryce Harper. Harper is hitting .417 with three home runs and seven RBI on the season. He looks fully healthy, and if he can stay healthy all year long, he will be right there for the National League’s most valuable player award.

The Nationals rotation, as I mentioned above might be the best in the entire major leagues. They have Cy Young Award level guys like Steven Strasburg, Max Scherzer, and Gio Gonzalez heading the rotation. And Tanner Roark is probably the best number four starter on any team.

The one weak link in the rotation is tonight’s starter, A.J. Cole. Cole has very little pitching experience and in his two seasons with Washington has made just sixteen starts. He hasn’t been terrible. Cole has a 4-7 record with an ERA of 4.52 in his several spot starts. This will be his first full season as part of the rotation for Washington, and we will see what the future holds for the big six-foot-five right-hander.

Atlanta just might be really bad this year. They didn’t have a good offseason, and I don’t see any reason to believe this team will compete to make the playoffs. Their starting rotation is a weak one, and their lineup looks like it lacks any real substance.

That being said, the Braves sure did swing the bats well against Philly in their first series of the year. The Braves scored twenty-seven runs in three games against the Phillies.

But we all know about the struggles the Phillies are going to have this year so you wouldn’t be wrong for wondering if that was Atlanta really showing us something or was it Philly just being bad. Freddie Freeman is great, but it would be hard to imagine we will continue to see this level of production from guys like Peter Bourjos, Nick Markakis, and Ryan Flaherty.

This Atlanta team came falling back to earth last night when they played against a team with an elite pitching staff in the Washington Nationals, scoring just one run.

The Braves are starting longtime pitcher Julio Teheran tonight. Teheran was the Braves opening day starter, and he did not pitch well. Teheran pitched just five and two thirds and gave up four runs on four hits and three walks. He got bailed out from picking up the loss when the Braves bats scored late to take him off the hook.

Teheran has had a losing record each of the last two seasons and saw his ERA balloon all the way up to 4.50 last season. That is tough when the ace of your staff is a guy that you can’t count on to even win more games than he loses.

At first glance you see a name like Teheran, and you think oh, he was an All-Star not long ago, he started on opening day, how can he be an underdog? Well, that’s what they want you to think. The fact of the matter is Teheran shouldn’t be an opening day starter and wouldn’t be for just about any other team in the league. So, don’t let that flashy name fool you, the Nationals are the much better team.

I am not sure what to expect from Cole tonight, but I know that this Nationals offense is rolling right now and expect them to get after Teheran early and often. I would be shocked to see Teheran reach the sixth inning. This feels like a slugfest to me, and who better to back in a high scoring game than the best offense in the majors?

Give me the Washington Nationals in a high scoring affair, laying just a little wood on the road at -128.

The Bet: Washington Nationals -128

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