Nationals vs. Braves Pick – April 20th

The analysis that Amir Garrett is the real deal was pretty spot on.  The 23-year old Reds rookie was AWESOME last night, fanning twelve batters and walking only one, but he allowed two runs and his mates only got TWO hits, so he, and we, took the loss last night.

Elsewhere, the Pirates and Cardinals played their third and final 2-1 contest of the three game series, with the Cardinals coming out on the right side for the second straight night.  The bats are still a major concern for the Red Birds, but the solid three days of starting pitching is a good sign as they try to put a terrible start in the rearview mirror.

Bryce Harper had a huge day, belting a pair of homeruns in the Nationals 14-4 win over the Atlanta Braves.  The Nats are now 9-5 and the win was even more impressive as they tallied a ton of the runs against an excellent Julio Tehran.

Thursday is a blend of some new series and get-away day, so we have a few new series as well as a few day games on the slate.   The Cardinals head to Milwaukee to see if Carlos Martinez can keep the hot pitching going against a Milwaukee team that gave up a TON of runs this week in Wrigley and Stephen Strasburg tries to make it three straight for the Nationals in Atlanta.

Lots of good action, albeit a limited slate.  Let’s dive in with today’s MLB Pick.

Today’s MLB Pick:

Washington Nationals -162 at Atlanta Braves +152 (Total: 7.5)
Stephen Strasburg (1-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (1-1, 3.86 ERA)

You are forgiven if you were unaware that former Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey was now in Atlanta.  It has been a rocky four years since his triumphant season in New York, pitching for both Toronto and now Atlanta, his ERA has hovered right near the 4.00 mark; not “bad” but clearly the Cy Young days are in the rear-view mirror for the 42-year old knuckleballer.

Knuckleballers are always tricky to handicap, because on the magical day where the ball dances just right, they can be unhittable.  But on a larger sample size of FOUR YEARS, those unhittable days are pretty few and far between.  His first two starts have yielded a WHIP of 1.80, far from unhittable, and the way the Nats are swinging the bats, I think today could be a tough outing for Dickey.

Meanwhile, Strasburg has the ball, and the potential for “unhittable” is even greater on his side.  He has been good so far this season, and is typically excellent over the course of his career in April.  That stat is somewhat skewed by the fact he is excellent in general when uninjured.  He is healthy now, and pitching well.  I like the Nats a lot tonight and am muscling up on the runline to get a little better payday.


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