We took a day off yesterday on a light slate of Major League action, but are back in full effect and looking to start the weekend off in winning fashion. There are some interesting National League series this weekend, highlighted by the Rockies and Dodgers weekend set for National League West supremacy. The nice thing for both teams is that they, and the Diamondbacks, might be battling intensely for first place in the West, but they have separated themselves from the rest of the Wildcard pack by a margin that has to make MLB uncomfortable. The three teams are separated by a game and a half in the standings, but the Rockies (third by percentage points) are still EIGHT and HALF games clear of the Cubbies in the wildcard race.
They NL West teams will beat each other up a little bit, but the margin is still so wide that if someone doesn’t stumble mightily, the pennant races might be our only late summer entertainment…
Let’s take a look at the most lopsided on the board tonight and see if there is some value in a more exotic wager…
Today’s MLB Pick:
Cincinnati Reds +237 at Washington Nationals -260
Luis Castillo (first start) vs. Stephen Strasburg (8-2, 3.28 ERA)
So, yeah, this one is a mismatch. Stephen Strasburg is a likely All Star and Luis Castillo has never faced a major league batter. Then there is the whole pesky, the Reds are 1-11 in their last 12 games and a dismal 11-23 on the road. Zack Cozart is injured, the bullpen is tired, and no one in the NL has been worse on the road than the Redlegs. Of their last nine losses, only two have been by a single run, which makes the runline a near-obvious wager tonight.
Meanwhile, Washington owns a +76 run differential, fifth best in the bigs, and has been steamrolling their way to an easy and boring double-digit NL East lead. The Nationals last five wins have all been by three or more runs. Yes, they are just 5-5 in their last ten games, but they are 7-2 in Strasburg’s last nine starts.
Washington is a ridiculously large favorite tonight, but the runline is actually pretty generous at -130. That is my official play for tonight, and I feel pretty good about the near-certainty of a Strasburg victory. There are some more exotic wagers out there online, like Washington -2.5 at +150 or Washington Total Runs Over 5.5 at +100. Both of those are intriguing possibilities as well.
For today, I’ll keep is simple on go Washington on the runline, but tonight is as big of a mismatch as I have seen in a while.
Today’s MLB Pick: WASHINGTON NATIONALS RUNLINE -1.5 (-130)