Philadelphia Phillies +102 at Washington Nationals -108 (Total: 7)
Cole Hamels vs. Jordan Zimmerman
The Nationals are in first place. The Phillies are in last. So are the Red Sox and Angels. And Albert Pujols is hitting .193 with 0 homeruns. Welcome to an interesting and extremely fun season of major league baseball, where perhaps the sport is (finally) shedding the perception that money alone buys results. The Yankees and Red Sox are in fourth and fifth place (dis)respectively in the American League East, while the Rays and Orioles continue to pace the division. The Indians lead the AL Central while the $900 million Tigers flounder at .500.
It’s going to be a fun summer in major league baseball, and perhaps no matchup illustrates the winds of change better than tonight’s national ESPN game between the seemingly eternal AL East reigning champs and the long-suffering upstarts from the nation’s capital. Philadelphia has actually managed the bevy of injuries fairly well so far this season as they eagerly await the returns of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. It isn’t surprising their offense has suffered, but their vaunted pitching staff has kept them in the race.
Tonight the Phills throw standout lefty Cole Hamels against a pretty pedestrian Washington lineup. Hamels is 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in five starts this season. He is a perfect 2-0 and his team is a perfect 3-0 in his last three outings with a ridiculous WHIP of jus 0.78. If no one reaches base, it’s hard to score runs. And that’s been a familiar refrain for the Nats all season. They are a NL-best 18-9, but it is nearly solely due to their pitching. They are hitting a near league-low .228 as a team, but a miserable .213 against lefties. And Cole Hamels is most definitely a southpaw.
The Nats were swept last week in a four-game set in Los Angeles, and it forced some speculation that perhaps their early season start was a bit of fools gold, but they have won four in a row rebounding and are looking to cap off a three-game sweep of the rival Phills tonight. The bats have woke up a bit, and it is perfectly fair to attribute some of it to the noisy arrival of 19-year olf phenom Bryce Harper. He is been electrifying, but also has been extremely productive. We’ll see if Davey Johnson keeps him in the 3-hole tonight against the lefty Hamels.
The run total on this game is a crazy-low 6; which is like a Justin Verlander v Jared Weaver type line, so it feels a little too slim, despite how well Zimmerman has pitched this season (he has been better than just about anyone in the league, except his teammates Stephen Strausburg and Gio Gonzalez…). But either way, I’d stay away from the total tonight.
The stat that tips my wager is the fact that Washington has been incredibly anemic against lefties this season. I like Hamels to take his role as stopper seriously and put an end to the Philly slide and keep Washington from putting even more distance between themselves and rest of the division.
Free Pick: Philadelphia Phillies +102