The Washington Nationals head to Marlins Park on Monday night to kickstart a three-game series with the Miami Marlins. Bryce Harper and co. have not been their elite selves lately, with the Nats producing a shaky 4-6 record over their last 10 games. Washington still rests comfortably in first place at 42-27 in the NL East, but have regressed a bit in June.
Washington will turn to a stellar 23-14 road record to start turning things around, while a date with the inferior Marlins hypothetically allows them a chance to do that. Vegas backs the Nats going into Monday’s matchup and overall in the series, so that seems to be a good spot for MLB bettors to place their money – at first glance.
Miami had been wasting away near the bottom of the NL East until recently, when they ripped off 6 wins over their last 10 contests. The Marlins dropped their last two games in a tough 2-1 series loss to the Atlanta Braves, yet remain just one game out of second place behind the Nats. Miami will hope to lean on it’s 16-16 home record to get the job done tonight, but may not have the pitching to keep the explosive Nats under wraps.
Washington Nationals (-118) @ Miami Marlins (-104) Total: 9.5
Tanner Roark (6-4, 4.39 ERA) vs. Justin Nicolino (0-1, 4.15 ERA)
The Nats enter with the obvious edge across the board, quickly making this a matchup where we either need to look extra hard for reasons not to back the Nats, or decide which way to roll with this playable Total. The first part should be relatively easy, as Washington seems to be their most dialed in on the road for some reason, while the Marlins are so middling they can’t even consistently hold serve in their own park.
Marlins Park can limit offensive production, but there is a lot of power on both sides. We also shouldn’t be overly worried about the pitching in this matchup, and that even starts with Tanner Roark. Roark had been due for some regression all year and we saw it hit hard in Atlanta, where the rival Braves rocked him to the tune of 9 hits and 7 runs. Roark is a solid overall pitcher, but he gives up too much contact and had been getting lucky for much of 2017.
Things tend to get a little better for Roark on the road, as the 30-year old righty sports an improved 3.86 ERA outside of Nationals Park. That’s still not a blistering ERA, however, and Roark’s contact issues could send him off the rails against a nasty Miami lineup.
The Marlins even got masher Justin Bour back recently, as they’re officially as dangerous as they can be. Roark’s overall talent and the park could lead us to considering the Under, but the overall numbers really don’t. Bour specifically destroys right-handed pitching, while Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna have the power and palatable splits to take on anyone. Miami as a whole ranks 6th in the majors in home runs against righties, too, so Roark could be in a considerable amount of trouble.
On the other side we have the ever beatable Nicolino, who got crushed (7 hits, 5 runs) against the only quality offense (Dodgers) he’s face in three starts. Nicolino has looked his best at home (1.00 ERA) but the sample size is disgustingly small and he hasn’t faced a lineup as explosive as Washington yet. His park can help and he’s going to try to manage this game with ground balls, but the matchup is not attractive on paper. Washington has absolutely wrecked southpaws in 2017 (6th in batting average) and sports plenty of power (15th in home runs) to mix in with Miami’s offense.
I don’t hate taking Miami at home as a fun upset pick, but the value is limited and I think Roark still gets yet another win. His offense saves him quite a bit and this game – park issues aside – is more about offense than it is about the arms. This is a great spot to bail on Nicolino, who isn’t as good as his numbers suggest. There are some elite bats in this one – on both sides – and this Total is pretty playable. Let’s target the Over with confidence.