Both John Lackey and Hyun-Jin Ryu were sharp last night and the Cardinals and Dodgers played another low-scoring tense ballgame. In fact, other than the Bizarro-World Adam Wainwright v. Clayton Kershaw offense explosion, this have been a low-scoring series over the past few postseasons. The inflated 7 ½ run total gave us an easy chance to cash a second straight winner and the fourth postseason winner in five plays, including a couple of massive underdogs.
We’ve got a nice rhythm going, so let’s see if we can keep it going today. Fortunately, we still have two series going and a nice pair of Game Fours with road teams trying to stave off elimination and force a Game Five back in their home ballpark. Will either be able to do so?? Let’s dig inside some numbers for today’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Washington Nationals -128 at San Francisco Giants +120 (Total: 6.5)
Gio Gonzalez vs. Ryan Vogelsong
The Nationals bounced up off the mat following Saturday’s heartbreaking 18-inning marathon to extend the series. Now, having beaten Madison Baumgarner yesterday, they are a Gio Gonzalez win away from sending this series back to Washington with the ball in the hand of their ace Stephen Strasburg. What a difference a day makes, huh?
Some thought the Nats might try to rush Strasburg on short rest, but giving the ball to Gio might be a better move. He finished the season strong, going 4.11 with a 2.26 ERA over the final month of the season. He has held opponents to three or less runs in his last seven outings, and over his last four has 27 strikeouts and just three walks. His command was his failing in the last postseason appearance, but he appears to be coming into tonight’s game sharp.
Vogelsong is the opposite story. He is 0-4 with a 5.53 ERA in his last five starts. His cause wasn’t aided by the fact the Giants scored a paltry three runs in those five outings, a total making any win nearly impossible. He has been very good in the postseason before, but has struggled against the Nationals individually. He is 1.2 with a 7.94 ERA in five career starts against Washington.
I like the energy the Nats played with yesterday and especially the way Bryce Harper is attacking the baseball with ferocity and confidence. If he can give them a little punch in the bottom half of the order, that might be all Gio needs today.
As we’ve seen in year’s past, betting against the Cardinals and Giants is always a bit of a risky proposition, but I think the Nats get today’s win in a good, tight baseball game.