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Nationals vs. Braves Pick – April 18th

The Braves are sending a guy who has only lasted five-plus innings over two starts to face Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals.  Do they have ANY shot to keep their perfect new stadium record intact??

The Milwaukee Brewers stayed hot yesterday, opening their series against the rival Cubs with a win and pushing the Cubs under .500 for the first time this season.  Obviously, it is far from panic time in Wrigleyville, we are just now nearing the 10% of the young season.  But it certainly isn’t the start the Champs were hoping for and I’d imagine we are another bad week or two away from some serious “World Series Hangover” talk starting to brew.

But speaking of brew, how about Eric Thames?  The thirty-year old slugger it hitting over .400 with seven homeruns, six of which have come in the last five games.  Not familiar with the name?  You are forgiven, because unless you have a long memory or are an ardent fan of the Korean League, you haven’t seen Eric Thames play since his 148 AB’s for Toronto in 2012.  It’s a pretty remarkable story, even if it fizzles out soon – you gotta love this game, right?

Thames isn’t the only unlikely NL hero so far this season.  Zack Cozart leads the league with a .432 batting average for the first-place Reds, and Marcell Ozuna looks like an MVP candidate with a .373/5/18 slashline for the Marlins.

Again, I know – it’s EARLY.  But it is fun to see some different names and storylines mixed in with the Yoenis Cespedes, Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado, Freddie Freeman and the other normal All Stars atop the statistical leaderboards.

Today’s MLB Pick:

Washington Nationals -165 at Atlanta Braves +160 (Total: 7.5)
Max Scherzer (1-1, 2.13 ERA) vs. Mike Foltynewicz (0-1, 6.35 ERA)

Starting with the pitching matchup, this game feels like a pretty big mismatch.  Granted, the Braves are 4-0 so far in their new digs, enjoying a little new-stadium mojo, but Max Scherzer seems a likely candidate to end the festivities promptly this evening.  Scherzer has a loss this season already, but it wasn’t like he got roughed up.  He enters tonight with a 2.13 ERA and 17 K’s in just 12+ innings.  He has a WHIP of 0.95 and a batting average against of just .178.  The Braves are last in the NL East in runs scored at just 50, and I don’t expect that number to improve much this evening.

Opposing Scherzer is righty Mike Foltynewicz.  He enters with a 6.35 ERA and has lasted just 5.2 innings across two starts.  His batting average against is a whopping .360 and his WHIP is 2.12.  Granted, his sample size is that of a normal middle reliever in April, but since he is a starting pitcher, I think it is fair to hold his numbers against him to this point.

The point is, even allowing two or three early against Scherzer is probably too much to claw back from, and if the first two starts are any indication, the Nats should have some early opportunities.

The Nats are at -165 to win, but I am going to muscle up on the -1.5 runline and get them at close to even money instead.

Today’s Pick:  WASHINGTON NATIONALS RUNLINE -1.5 (-105)

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