The Tampa Bay Rays hope to find some better fortunes in Washington, as they look to snap a four-game losing streak against the Nationals. The Rays find themselves in a division with two of the hottest teams in baseball, so there is absolutely zero chance of them coming back to make the Red Sox or Yankees. A 28-30 record would have them right up in the mix in some divisions this year, but all that gets them is a spot 12 games behind 1st place. You think that’s bad, the Blue Jays are 14.5 games back and the Orioles are 23 back. When the Rays look at it that way, it’s not as terrible. If they play their cards right the rest of the way, they may be within shouting distance of a wildcard in September, though.
I don’t believe the Rays have the firepower to make that work. They’ve disappeared at times offensively. Now would be one of those moments that the Rays have had issues scratching runs across the plate. In their last two games they scored a run each against the Mariners in 3-2 and 2-1 losses. Can’t blame the pitching for that disregard for scoring runs. During their four-game skid, they’ve scored an average of 2 runs per game, so there hasn’t been much run support to help the pitching out.
The Nationals will send ace Max Scherzer to the hump. Scherzer is in a group with some of the most dependable pitchers in the majors. He joins a list that includes a former teammate, Justin Verlander. It makes you wonder how that Tigers team failed to win a World Series with the talent they had in the rotation. It just goes to show you how important the bullpen is, because that was their one problem. They had hitters in their offense, too. The Nats have an average pen, but it’s something they could look at come deadline time. With Scherzer starting, who needs a bullpen for his days at the office? He enters in a prime position to win another Cy Young, which would be the fourth of his career and third in a row, dating back to 2016. Head below for our free Rays vs. Nationals pick.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Washington Nationals Pick
Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (9-1, 1.92 ERA)
Looking at Eovaldi’s numbers you would believe he’s been perfect this year. he has been perfect, but the asterisk here is the fact that he has only pitched 6 innings. Eovaldi looked fantastic against the Athletics, as he shut them down for no hits and no runs across 6 innings of work. Did the A’s look past Eovaldi? Quite possibly. He is a pitcher that hadn’t seen a major league mound since 2016.
He missed all of 2017 after going through Tommy John surgery. Eovaldi just made his first appearance since August 10th, 2016. It was spectacular return for him, but that was only 6 innings. We’ll see what happens when he has to play against an offense like the Nationals. Eovaldi hasn’t had an ERA below 4.00 since 2013, so I don’t think his outing against the Athletics is the best barometer to gauge him by.
Scherzer has a little more work under his belt this season. He enters with an ERA of 1.92 across 79.2 innings. Scherzer has been a work horse for the Nationals in his career with them. He’s been nearly unhittable at home, as he goes into Tuesday with a stellar 1.77 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, and .192 OBA in D.C. The Nationals have won just three of their last four games and not playing their best. I think with Max back on the hump the Nats will get back in shape against the Rays. I feel fine backing Scherzer and the Nationals on the run-line.