Bryce Harper’s old running mates are in town for a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies. Staying in the same division allows Bryce to see a lot of the Nationals, and with a 13-year contract signed, he is going to have a lot of opportunities to show what they’re missing out on. So much for that thus far. He was absent from the All-Star Game after failing to get voted in and has been the subject of much criticism for his effort in the first-half.
Along with him, you can make the case that Jake Arrieta has been a massive waste of money thus far, too. It hasn’t been only Bryce failing to do his job. He’s going to be the easy target to blame, though, giving his contractual obligations and lofty expectations.
It wasn’t until the second-half that he turned it on last season, so maybe we’ll see the same happen. In any event, if I’m an employer paying this guy $330 million, I’d like to see a more consistent effort from my highest paid employee. Down by 6.5 games in the NL East, something must change quickly for him.
The Nationals started playing better baseball, while they watched the Phillies continue to slip. Washington were able to make it past the Phillies to give them something to ponder about during the break. It should be a reminder that they have to get things going soon or this season is going to be a massive failure.
Every season that the Phillies don’t have a successful season for the next 13 years is going to be looked at as a bust. If the Nats edge out the Phillies for a wildcard, that’d be the best revenge that any National fan could hope for. As everyone focuses on what Harper hasn’t been doing, Anthony Rendon has been demanding the spotlight for what he’s been doing at the dish. Rendon is hitting .304 with 20 home runs and 62 RBI’s.
Conversely, Harper is hitting .253 with 16 home runs. Rendon is closing in on a large contract in the offseason. If he can carry the Nats to the postseason, his case for a massive contract will be that much stronger. Stephen Strasburg will get the call for the Nationals, while Nick Pivetta will counter for the Phillies. Head below for our free Nationals vs. Phillies pick.
Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies Pick:
Betting odds provided by bovada.lv
The Nationals have had the upper hand on Bryce Harper and the Phillies this season. It’s probably been tough for him to watch his former team rack up the wins against his current outfit. Washington are winners in three straight and six of their last eight meetings have gone to the Nationals over the Phillies. Like I said, this isn’t just a Bryce Harper issue for the Phillies. The starting pitching and bullpen could be much better, which they’re going to need regardless of what Harper does.
The Phillies’ bullpen is 22nd with an ERA of 4.76, while the starting pitcher’s have combined for an ERA of 4.56. Pivetta has been skewing their numbers in the wrong direction, as he’s posted an ERA of 5.84 in 61.2 innings. He has been struggling mightily recently as well, with an 8.10 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in his previous three outings. Pivetta hasn’t allowed less than 4 runs since against the Reds on June 8th. His pitch hasn’t been working well for him at home either, with a 5.92 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in 38 innings of work.
Washington have made Pivetta’s time at the office rather difficult. It isn’t a team that he has been pleased to see over his three-year career. The Nats have walloped Pivetta for a .408 batting average and .478 OBP in 98 at-bats. They’ve recorded a staggering 9 long balls and 30 runs in that time. Rendon has been an absolute force against Pivetta, hitting .556 with 4 home runs in 18 appearances at the plate.
Strasburg has been serviceable against the Phillies in a large sample size. The Phillies are hitting .273 with 6 home runs and 21 runs in 187 at-bats. Pivetta hasn’t seven seen the Nats in 100 at-bats, yet has given up 30 runs already. Strasburg enters this contest with a 3.10 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in his previous three contests. He’s been strong on the road, posting a 3.19 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 59.1 innings of baseball. Consider going with the road team in this one on Friday night.