Just in case anyone had forgotten about the Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper is happy to remind you that they are still there and still planning on being a major factor in the pennant picture. In fact, he will remind you both with his bat AND his even more-famous mouth. After belting three mammoth homeruns in a 7-5 win over the Marlins, he declared that the Nationals are still the team to beat and everyone knows it. And as brash and unlikeable as he may be to some, he may not be wrong. Washington still has a fearsome pitching staff, tons of young talent and many a playoff team has rebounded from a terrible start (Kansas City Royals last year).
Elsewhere, the Reds may be without the services of former MVP Joey Votto for a while after he went apoplectic after being ejected (a little quick ejection trigger by the umpire) and bumped into the home plate ump. The ejection was probably unwarranted, but the suspension for bumping an umpire seems pretty set in stone. It’ll be interesting to see how many games the Commish hands down…
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Today’s Free Pick:
Cincinnati Reds +135 at Pittsburgh Pirates -145 (Total: 7.5)
Anthony DeSclafani (2-2, 2.03 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (0-1, 1.45 ERA)
The Reds have taken the first two games of the series, and should have Joey Votto in the lineup tonight while he awaits word of his punishment for last night’s dustup. Meanwhile, it has been like someone has already suspended the Pirates bats. They’ve scored just five runs over their last five games, including last night’s 3-0 loss and are 2 for 36 with runners in scoring position over that span. It doesn’t get any easier tonight with rookie sensation Anthony DeSclafani on the mound. So far this season DeSclafani has been fantastic, posting a 2.02 ERA and a dazzling WHIP of just 0.94. He’s shown excellent and remarkable game control for his age.
Opposing him is resurgent veteran A.J. Burnett. He looked to be on the downside of his career, but his return to Pittsburgh has been a fantastic return. His ERA is microscopic, his WHIP fantastic… but he hasn’t won a single game and his team is 1-4 in his five starts. Huh? Well, the main reason is his team averages a stunning 1.4 runs per game when he pitches. That’s pretty rough.
I think the Pirates struggles bode well for the Reds and their pitchers tonight. Expect a good starting outing – and if DeSclafani can give them seven, they only need to limp through the eighth before handing the ball to Aroldis Chapman, who has yet to allow a RUN this entire season.
Burnett has been a pretty good bet on the UNDER side of wagers. The UNDER is 23-7-1 in his last 31 starts. Meanwhile, the UNDER is 8-3-1 in the Reds last twelve road games and the UNDER is 5-2-1 is Burnett’s last eight starts against the Reds.
So I’ll bank on these two pitchers and offenses, who are hitting .229 and .221 respectively, keeping the total under the oddly inflated 7.5 line. I like the value in the Reds at +135 as well. Something just seems “off” with McCutchen – watch him playing a few balls in the outfield gingerly and pulling up early twice running out infield ground outs. They can’t score anyway, but with McCutchen not 100% it gets even worse. Burnett is only 7-6 with a 3.69 ERA against Cincinnati in his career, and he certainly isn’t likely to get great run support tonight.