We took a loss last night with the underdog Phillies surrendering two runs in the eighth to the red-hot Marlins. And while I write this column today, we can all wait for the ball Giancarlo Stanton hit to seal that victory to land…. Still waiting… still…
490-feet of sheer awesomeness later, Stanton’s homerun reentered the Earth’s atmosphere and the Marlins notched their eleventh win in twelve games in the process. Can they contend with the Nats and Marlins all summer long? I don’t think so. But with their young lineup and rotation all starting to blossom and a legitimate MVP candidate in Stanton, anything is possible.
Meanwhile, the Cubs have taken the first two of a four game set against the Nationals, further solidifying their grasp on “best team in baseball” status. If they win today, that would leave them sitting on Jake Arrieta on Sunday to complete one of the more impressive series sweeps in baseball this season. No game in May is a “must win”, especially outside of division. But today is a “really really nice to win” game for the Nats who have a buzzsaw awaiting them tomorrow…
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Today’s Free Pick:
Washington Nationals +130 at Chicago Cubs -140 (Total: 7)
Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 1.15 ERA) vs. Jason Hamel (4-0, 1.24 ERA)
The bats have reigned in this series so far, but I think the pitchers might get a little revenge today. Go Gonzalez looks more like the Cy Young candidate of a few years ago than even the Nats might have hoped for, and Jason Hamel looks like the big-time addition he was supposed to be when they first acquired him in a splashy move last season. Both enter today with microscopic ERA’s and pretty dominant splits.
So who has the edge today?
Hamel allowed two run in his last outing, only his second and third runs allowed of the season. He enters with a nice WHIP of 1.07 and a reasonable 25:10 K/BB rate. Gonzalez has a lesser record, but his numbers are every bit as good. He enters with a WHIP of 0.99 over a much more strenuous workload, going at least six-plus in every start this season and holding opponents to just a .195 batting average (compared to Hamel’s .207 – which is also awesome).
I think both sides will have to scratch out some runs today. Chicago has the stronger lineup, but I give Gio the slight edge in stuff and stamina. The Cubs will need three or four solid innings out of their pen, the Nats shouldn’t need more than two. But I don’t see either side running wild today. I like the value of the Nats at +130, but am staking today’s official pick on the total staying UNDER 7. Chicago’s offense hasn’t been stunted often this season, but Gio is in a groove. He has only allowed more than a single run once, and his two run allowed outing came in a game where he only allowed three hits in six innings and struck out eight batters with a single walk. Someone may run into a pitch today in similar fashion, but I don’t expect the Cubs to wear him out as they have most starting pitchers this season. Gio’s command is too good and he has the confidence to attack batters; something you HAVE to do with Chicago’s patient lineup.