Nationals vs. Braves Pick MLB – Sept 18th

Our winning streak was finally snapped yesterday after a nice week-long run of winners.  It snapped in an odd way – and perhaps some of you might have caught a lucky break as the Reds and Pirates played two yesterday and the game I selected was originally slated to be the second game’s pitching matchup.  However, DiSclafani and Taillon went first, so perhaps that game was off the board by the time you even got to the column.  If so – bully for you!  Either way, both games went over the total with room to spare, though I will gripe a little bit about having the under in game with SIX ERRORS.  That’s a bit of a statistical anomaly.

Alas, it is back to the grind today on a football Sunday to see if we can sneak a nice MLB winner under the football-centric radar.  Meanwhile, the biggest news in baseball yesterday was the ENORMOUS ninth inning, season-saving rally by the St. Louis Cardinals.  They scored two runs in the ninth to steal a 3-2 win in San Francisco and wake up today only two behind the Giants and Mets for the top wildcard spot instead of four and three respectively.  HUGE rally in typical never-dead Cardinals fashion…  And if the Cards DO make the postseason, that will likely be the reason why.  Today’s series finale pits Reyes vs. Suarez in a virtual Vegas pick ‘em.  Big game at 4:10 EST.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Washington Nationals -150 at Atlanta Braves +140 (Total: 9)

Joe Ross (7-4, 3.49 ERA) vs. Matt Wisler (6-12, 5.00 ERA)

The Nats are pretty much idling into the postseason with the division wrapped up, no pressure for first round home field from the Dodgers and no realistic chance of catching the Cubs for the top overall seed.  It takes a little of the edge off, but they have still handled their business against lesser competition, winning six of their last eight while facing Philly and Atlanta sandwiched around a winning series against the rival Mets.  Joe Ross will get the ball today for the first time since July 2nd, so don’t expect a super-long leash despite a favorable matchup.  Prior to his injury he was having a really nice season, and if you look at his last three starts as a possible foreshadowing that something wasn’t quite 100%, he had an ERA under three for most of the season.

Facing Ross will be 24-year old rookie Matt Wisler.  Wisler has some decent stuff, but appears to have hit a bit of the rookie wall.  He had two nice outings recently, but his last time out was an explosion of six runs in just four innings.  In fact, in four of his last seven starts he has allowed six earned runs.  That doesn’t bode well facing a Washington team with plenty of offense, especially since the dynamic Trea Turner was installed at the top of the lineup.  The Nats are playing it straight today with Turner in the one-hole and Murphy, Harper, Werth and Rendon all in the lineup, so no coasting on a matinee getaway day for Dusty Baker’s squad.

The line of -150 feels about right given the Nationals’ team dominance and the Braves ignominy, as well as the chronicled struggles of Wisler, but the real value is on the runline at +110.   I like the Nats to cruise today after looking a little flat last night and to come up with a nice offensive effort to support Ross’s long awaited return to the rotation.

Free Pick:  Washington Nationals RUNLINE -1.5 (+110)

Chris Scheeren / Author