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Nationals vs. Marlins MLB Pick – July 31st

The Chicago Cubs burned us on Friday. Before claiming two wins against the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend, they of course had to cough up a loss in a 2-1 loss on Friday night. That close loss gave us a second straight defeat, but we’re still 7-6 over our last 13 MLB picks. The aim is to be better than that, but when you see that our last two losses came by the hands of the Astros and Cubs, you know the luck we’ve been dealing with recently.

We’ll try to turn the corner tonight as we take a look at an interesting showdown between the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins. There could be interesting value to be had in this one, as the Nats are mild favorites on the road and could give us some nice action with a +125 Run Line. Miami could also provide an argument as the home underdog. Miami has won 7 of their last 10 games, after all, and have now pulled into second place behind the Nats in the NL East. They won’t be stealing the division, but they certainly will look to keep the ball rolling against their rivals.

Let’s dive into this matchup and see which betting angle we should attack:

Washington Nationals (-138) @ Miami Marlins (+118) Total: 9

Gio Gonzalez (8-5, 2.81 ERA) vs. Jose Urena (9-4, 4.04 ERA)

Washington is the understandable favorite here. The Nats have been one of the best teams in baseball all year and even own an elite 33-19 record on the road. Their offense is what we tend to get excited about, while they have a potentially favorable matchup with Urena. The downside could be their own pitching here, while Marlins Park doesn’t always provide the best environment for piling on runs.

Gonzalez isn’t some trash arm, of course. The 31-year old lefty can dominate in any matchup and is fresh off of a gem, where he struck out 8 batters and gave up just two runs across 7 innings in a win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Gonzalez isn’t always that dominant, but he tends to manage games well and avoids blow up outings. The southpaw hasn’t coughed up more than 4 runs in any point over his last 10 games and has allowed more than two just three times during that span.

We can choose to get behind Gonzalez, but we should certainly consider a few things. For one, his ERA dips from 2.02 to 3.50 when he heads out on the road, while he’s had some issues with the long ball in general (16 home runs allowed) this year. Miami as a whole doesn’t look like that scary of a matchup, though. The Marlins rank just 26th in the majors in home runs against left-handed pitching, after all. That being said, Miami has two dangerous mashers in Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton that can power the ball deep – specifically against southpaws. Miami as a whole bats well against lefties, too, ranking 7th in MLB when it comes to batting average.

There is some touch and go with this matchup for Gonzalez, but he has been here and done that with the Marlins. Gio took Miami on earlier this year two different times and has escaped cleanly, allowing just one home run and three runs, total. It might not be that much of a leap to bank on him doing so again in a park that should protect him from the long ball a bit.

On the other side we have Urena, who has numbers that arguably make him look better than he actually is. Urena does a solid job of inducing soft contact and manage games, but he is not a big strikeout guy. If he’s not careful, things could get out of hand very quickly against a lethal Nationals lineup.

What’s more troubling is Urena has given up more contact at home than he’d like, as opponents collectively produce a .296 batting average. Urena has also given up 7 of his home runs here on the year, which isn’t a comforting thought against a potent Nats squad that ranks 2nd in the majors in HR against righties. Washington is just as nasty at simply connecting, as the Nationals are also 2nd in MLB in batting average versus right-handed pitching.

Could Stanton and Ozuna smash Gio to the moon and back? Sure. Could Urena pitch a random gem? It’s not impossible. However, the Nats completely flatlining in this spot isn’t what Vegas likes and it isn’t what is most logical. Instead, we should bank on the Nats getting the win here. That puts them in play as a solid straight up bet, but the real value lies with the -1.5 Run Line (+125).

Pick: Washington Nationals -1.5 Run Line (+125)

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