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Nationals vs. Pirates Pick MLB – July 23rd

We came up short again yesterday by a few runs, and haven’t gotten off to the post-all star break start that I’d hoped for after a blistering run in late June/July. We will try to get a nice slump-buster tonight with a few decent matchups to choose from.

Meanwhile the first major trade deadline domino has fallen with the A’s dealing Scott Kazmir to the Astros in exchange for prospects. I am not sure if this means the ‘Stros are out on Cueto now, but in my opinion, this move alone isn’t quite enough to make the big difference. Kazmir is a solid pitcher and a nice addition, but is by no means adding an ace to bookend the rotation with Kuechel. It will be interesting to see if Houston are still buyers the next week after a half-decade of insane futility.

There will be many more big moves over the next few days, but for now, let’s make a move of our own by picking up a nice winner.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Washington Nationals +168 at Pittsburgh Pirates -178 (Total: 7)

Doug Fister vs. Francisco Liriano

The Pirates have gotten off to a disastrous start post-break, dropping five of their first six games and giving back ill-advised ground to the Cardinals in the process. They had won 13 of 16 before the break including two of three in an incredibly dramatic homestand with two walkoff wins against the Redbirds. However, they are now back to six games out of first and desperately needing to string together some wins to stay in the race.

Coming home might be a good recipe for them. They have won nine of their last ten games at PNC Park and have the third-best home record in baseball at 32-16. Andrew McCuthen’s home OPS of 1.147 since May 20th is second only to Miguel Cabrera.

However. The Nats seem to own the Pirates. They outscored them 19-3 in a three-game series back in June and have won seven straight overall against the Pirates. So it comes down to Liriano tonight. He has gotten better and better all season, and the Pirates are 3-0 in his last three starts while he has posted an 1.98 ERA in his last three starts to lower his season ERA under 3.00 for the first time. He will likely need to be sharp tonight against a Nats team that has owed the Pirates.

The Pirates have the pitching edge at starter, but the trend of Washington owning the Pirates, plus the fact Liriano hasn’t started since before the break, giving him almost a mini DL stint due to some health concerns, makes the +168 too juicy not to take a chance on. I’ll take the Nats at huge plus money tonight.

Free Pick: Washington Nationals to WIN +168