In my pick yesterday, I mentioned that Boston Red Sox pitcher Kyle Hart, is the type of guy that you only start when you don’t care too much about winning baseball games. He wasn’t very good in the minors and was rushed to the majors this year, to try and help fill the massive hole left by the departure of Chris Sale, David Price, and Eduardo Rodriguez from this Red Sox rotation.
So, when I saw that I could fade Hart and his last-place Red Sox, and only get taxed a buck and a quarter to do so, it seemed like outrageously high value. I fired on the Blue Jays and expected Hart to get hammered.
And that is exactly what happened. Hart got blasted for six earned runs on eight hits and three walks in just three and a third innings of work. The Blue jays jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and I patted myself on the back for picking the low hanging fruit and booking a winner. We were cruising to the easy victory with a 6-3 lead in tow, until the sixth inning happened, and the Blue Jays fell apart, spoiling our bet.
— Red Sox (@RedSox) August 26, 2020
In the sixth, the Red Sox exploded for six runs, with the dagger being a three-run triple by Rafael Devers. All of the sudden, our big lead was a big deficit. The Blue Jays tried to get back into the game, and tightened things up in the ninth inning, and managed to bring the tying run to the plate, but came up short, and we lost a bet we should have won.
Blowing big leads is never fun, but it is part of the game and happens to everybody from time to time. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will look to shake off last night’s run bad when we head to the nation’s capital, where the Washington Nationals host the Philadelphia Phillies.
Philadelphia Phillies (11-14) at Washington Nationals (11-16)
The Washington Nationals host the Philadelphia Phillies tonight in game two of a three-game series between National League East Division rivals. The Phillies took game one last night in a blowout, 8-3, powered by JT Realmuto, who hit a three-run homer in the Philly win. Both teams have gotten off to slow starts, but with the expanded playoffs this year, neither team is far from postseason contention. The win last night was the second straight for Philly as they look to stay in the playoff conversation in the NL.
For Washington, the Nationals are bruised and beaten, and it is showing. With several of their best players not on the field, including Stephen Strasburg, who was shut down for the year last week, the Nats are finding it hard to stay competitive. Washington is 2-4 in their last six games, and they have lost twelve out of their last eighteen games this month.
Starting tonight for the Phillies is their ace, Aaron Nola (2-2 3.10 ERA), and for the Nationals, it is Patrick Corbin (2-2 3.99 ERA). The game total over/under is set at eight and a half runs. The Phillies are small -110 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 PM PST from Nationals Park in Washington DC.
The Philadelphia Phillies should be better than this. They are hitting the ball hard, but that just isn’t correlating to a lot of wins, as their pitching staff has been getting lit up. And when you look at the guys they have on their pitching staff, you have to wonder why they are struggling so much? This isn’t a bunch of scrubs pitching in Philly as they have proven quality arms like Jake Arrieta, Zach Wheeler, Zach Eflin, and tonight’s starter Aaron Nola.
One guy, in particular, that is hitting the ball hard right now, is Bryce Harper. Harper is hitting .321 with an on-base percentage of .460, 7 homers, and 19 RBI. His OPS is seventh highest in the majors at a smoking hot 1.114. If the Phillies are going to be able to club their way into the playoffs, it is going to be on the back of Bryce Harper.
Aaron Nola (2-2 3.10 ERA)
Aaron Nola has good enough stuff to be the best pitcher in the National League, this kid is that talented. The only problem for Nola, is that he can’t always stay consistent. Sometimes he goes out and gets you seven shutout innings, like he did two starts ago, against the New York Mets. And other times, he gets smashed for four runs in just 2.3 innings, like he did in his last start, against the Atlanta Braves.
Despite the inconsistent results, Nola has seen his strikeout rate go through the roof this season as he is sitting guys down at a rate of 12.4 K/9. That is the highest total of his career. He is also walking far fewer guys as well, as his walk rate per nine innings is the lowest he has ever posted, at just 2.2, down significantly from last year’s rate of 3.6.
You might be asking yourself if he is striking out more guys and walking fewer, where is the problem for Nola this year? Home runs. Nola has already allowed five home runs this season in just five starts. If Nola can find a way to keep the ball in the ballpark tonight, he is going to have a lot of success.
Things are going from bad to worse quickly for the Washington Nationals. We already talked about the loss of Stephen Strasburg, but Washington also sent their best reliever, Sean Doolittle, to the IL on the same day. And while Doolittle was struggling this season, he was a guy that carried Washington in the postseason last year and losing him is going to hurt.
This month, the Nats have also lost starting pitcher Roenis Elias, bullpen arm Sam Freeman, starting second baseman Starlin Castro, and Seth Romero, a guy that Washington was about to move into their starting rotation, as he broke his hand going down the stairs and is out for the year. This team is quickly looking nothing like the team that took home last year’s World Series title.
Patrick Corbin (2-2 3.99 ERA)
Strikeout artist Patrick Corbin has racked up an average of over 240 Ks a year the last two seasons. That put him in elite company in the National League, and he finished both seasons getting Cy Young Award votes.
But this season, he has seen his K rate dip considerably from his high of 11.1 in 2018, to just 9.5 this year. His ERA is also nearly a full run higher than it was two years ago and is the worst number he has posted in the last three seasons.
But when you look at his stats in a vacuum, they are still decent, he just isn’t living up to his reputation right now. He has struggled particularly badly in his last two starts, both coming against weaker hitting teams in Miami and Baltimore, as he got roughed up for eight earned runs in 11.1 innings worked.
Who Do I Like?
The Washington Nationals are sliding down a very slippery slope right now. Since losing Strasburg and Doolittle, it seems the wind has been knocked out of their sails. They have lost three out of four games since they shut down two of their best pitchers, and all three of those losses came by multiple runs, with a combined run differential of -10. Washington hasn’t been playing well all season long, but they look dejected as of late, and I would expect a lot of losing for the Nats in the second half.
The best way to beat Aaron Nola is to square him up and hit balls out of the ballpark. But when you look at this Washington lineup, they just don’t hit very many homers. They are 3rd in the majors in batting average, but just 20th in home runs. And remember, they have played more games than several teams that had games canceled due to COVID-19, so in reality, they are one of the weaker hitting teams in the game right now on a per game basis.
I think that Aaron Nola puts on a show tonight in this one. There is no love lost when these two teams match up, and he is going to love to be able to take advantage of a Washington team that is in free fall right now. In his last start, he pitched poorly. But in his previous three starts, he was dialed in, as he tossed a combined 21 innings and allowed just two earned runs, with a whopping 30 Ks.
Don’t be shocked if Nola gets us seven or even eight strong innings in this one, and double-digit strikeouts are a distinct possibility. And while I don’t think Corbin will be bad, if he is shaky, the Nationals will have to turn to their depleted bullpen that has been used and abused lately. The Nationals have played eighteen games in the last nineteen days, and they look tired right now. Expect the Phillies to win this one, and it might not even be close.