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Pirates vs. Nationals Pick – MLB June 21st

A big underdog win with the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday, as it was pretty well set in stone from the top of the 1st inning that the Rays had the game. The Rays jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead off an Evan Longoria dinger. They added another one and cruised to a 4-1 victory over the Indians. They did all that with their bullpen pitching the majority of the game. Starter Erasmo Ramirez left in the 4th inning as a result of a groin injury which opened the door for the Indians to do something on offense. I was thinking oh great were in a great position with the Rays as a big underdog and we need the bullpen to help us out for the next 6 innings. I did know the Rays had a good bullpen though, so there was some hope there. Fortunately they played extremely well and played an integral role in the win for the Rays. I didn’t understand the price in that game then and still don’t understand why they made the Indians a -180 favorite. They shouldn’t be that big of favorites against pretty much every team in the majors, let alone a surging Rays team.

Sunday’s are always filled with day games and then a primetime matchup on ESPN. I always like getting the day started early with some baseball action. With no other major sports occurring until the NFL preseason, we are going to have to settle with baseball, and then it is fine with me. Before I start getting the football bug in about a month from now, and then I’ll start getting a little antsy for another sport. Today we take a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals, a day after Max Scherzer went the distance and completed a no-hitter. He was actually a batter away from earning a perfect game, but he let one slip away which resulted in hitting the batter. Nevertheless, what a showing by him, and it happened a start after he gave up 1 hit in the previous outing. In other words, Scherzer was 1 hitter away from having back-to-back no-hitters. Someone has been earning their money. Today the Nationals turn to Gio Gonzalez, a guy that has been in flux for the majority of this season. Charlie Morton comes out in response for the Pirates, who is having himself a career season in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Washington Nationals

Charlie Morton (5-0, 1.62 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (4-4, 4.82 ERA)

This is another game where I’m trying to grasp why the Nationals are big of favorites as they are. Perhaps people are going to be feeling great about the Nationals after they’ve been in the spotlight for the last 24 hours, but I think the Pirates are the better team here and have the better pitcher taking the mound. Charlie Morton has been playing great in 2015 and his success is one of the reasons why the Pirates are enjoying so much success at 39-28. The Pirates were winners of nine straight games before losing two in a row against the Nationals in this series. During that run, the Pirates allowed an average of only 0.77 runs per game. Morton has a strong 1.62 ERA going into Sunday, with a 0.99 WHIP and .256 OBP against. In his last two starts he didn’t allow a single run, and in his last three his ERA stood at an impressive 1.40.

The Nationals used to have a great pitcher to lean on in Gio Gonzalez. In his last four seasons with the Nationals this has been his worst, if the season ended today of course. There is still time for him to get back on track, but so far he’s been all over the place. He’s gone stretches this season where he has gotten rocked. Take for instance of late, where he posted an ERA of 5.17 in his last three starts. Additionally, he had a 1.66 WHIP and .384. Given the facts and the price of this game, we have to take a look at the underdog and Pirates for this afternoon.

PICK: PIRATES TO WIN +113