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Nats at Cardinals – Free Pick NLDC Game Two

Washington Nationals -103 at St. Louis Cardinals -107 (Total: 7.5) – NLDS Game Two

Jordan Zimmerman vs. Jaime Garcia

The Nationals notched an enormous road win to open the series yesterday with a huge two-run eighth inning to take a 3-2 lead; eventually holding on by the same score.  The win was the first playoff win by a Washington baseball team in nearly 80 years.  Tonight they look to follow the Reds lead and likewise sweep two road games and head home with three chances to finish out the series.

If you’re a Nats fan, wouldn’t it be nice to have Steven Strasburg going in Game Two today??  Just saying…

Alas, the Nats will send another fantastic young hurler Jordan Zimmerman to duel playoff-tested veteran Jaime Garcia.  Zimmerman has put up great numbers all season, posting a 12-8 record with a dynamite 2.94 ERA.  That is nearly a full run better than the Cardinals’ Garcia, who enters at just 7-7 with a 3.92 ERA and a somewhat-frightening WHIP of 1.36 (if you are a Cards fan anyway).  For all the talk about intangibles and playoff experience, etc, just based on the starting pitching matchups it is hard to see why the Cards are the Vegas favorite for the second straight day.  If this were a regular season game, the line would likely be somewhere around -120/+110.  However, in my opinion, the Cardinals playoff mystique (and the notion that surely they can’t go down 0-2 at home) sways the line.

Jordan Zimmerman has thrown five straight quality starts, though his last non-quality outing was against these same Redbirds, an eight-run, 3 2/3 inning debacle.  It’s a similar story for Garcia; four straight quality starts, yet his last outing against the Nats was an ugly one where he allowed six runs in five innings.  That sounds like a trend worth exploring to me, and makes the 7.5 run total seem awfully low; especially given the propensity of teams to follow up lackluster offensive outputs with much better ones.

It would be easy to look at the early returns, six of eight games in the Playoffs hitting the UNDER and the other two narrowly squeaking OVER with one decisive run in the eighth or ninth innings, but remember the reason WHY so many Game Ones land UNDER… they are matchups of #1 starters!  As the series wears on, expect run totals to creep a little higher as teams get into the middle of their rotations.  I think tonight is a prime example of that happening.  Both teams have hit the other starter well, and both teams have potent lineups that sputtered a bit yesterday.  I like two picks on this game; the first is the Nationals winning and roughing up Garcia.  The second is the run total OVER the low 7.5.

Free Picks:  Washington Nationals to WIN -103 & Run TOTAL OVER 7.5 (-105)