We win yet again! Our now white-hot finish to August continued last night as we went 2-0 on our picks and ran our record to 11-3 this week with eight money line underdogs winners. We picked up the win last night when we backed the Oakland A’s as underdogs against the Minnesota Twins. This was a classic case of the books and public putting far too much emphasis on the starting pitching matchup and not looking enough at the full teams on the field.
It is hard to argue the A’s weren’t the much better team in this game, so I backed them and felt good about our bet. In the end, the game itself was a bit of a boring affair. The A’s took the lead early and slowly pulled away for the 6-2 win, and we easily cashed our ticket. The win was the third straight for the A’s, and they head to Houston today for a huge showdown with the Astros that is chalked full of playoff implications. For today’s pick, we will look at the game between the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Washington Nationals head to Philly Monday for game one of a three-game matchup with the Phillies. The matchup features two suddenly struggling teams that both badly need to turn things around if they want to stay in contention in the National League. If the season ended today, both of these National League East teams would be o the outside looking in for the playoffs.
Starting tonight for the Phillies is Zach Eflin (9-4 3.93 ERA), and for the Nationals, it is Stephen Strasburg (6-7 4.23 ERA). The Nationals are -114 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM PST from Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia.
What is going on in the National League East right now? Going back to early August, the Nationals have gone just 7-12, including getting shutout in three straight games before busting out of that slump last night with fifteen runs. The story for Philly isn’t much better as they have lost six out of their last eight games. With these struggles, the Atlanta Braves have managed to build up a somewhat comfortable lead in an NL East race most expected to come down to the season’s last couple of games.
One guy that has certainly been struggling this season for the Nationals is tonight’s starter, Steven Strasburg. Strasburg just hasn’t been able to stay healthy at all this season. He missed six weeks in June and July, he came back and made one start and got rocked. He then missed another month before returning last week for one start and again got rocked.
In his last three starts, and you have to go all the way to June 8th to find them, he has pitched a combined ten and two-thirds of an inning and has allowed fourteen earned runs. That isn’t exactly what I would call solid production. Strasburg has been a great starter in this game for a long time, but right now, he looks hurt and lost out there on the mound.
In his last start, he pitched against these very same Philadelphia Phillies and got torched for five earned runs in four innings of work. The Phillies haven’t been known for their power bats this year, but they touched Strasburg hard in his last start and smell blood in the water tonight.
The Phillies will counter with Zach Eflin on the mound. Efflin has been decent most of the season, with solid work in most starts. He isn’t spectacular, and he isn’t going to go out and win you the game by himself, but you can see with his 9-4 record, he wins a lot more than he loses.
Efflin has pitched against Washington twice this season with mixed results. In his first start against the Nats this year he pitched five innings of two runs ball and picked up the win. In his last start against them, last week, he got run from the game after just three and two-thirds pitched, allowing four earned runs, and the Phillies lost.
The Nationals threw up what was essentially a white flag when deiced to trade Danial Murphy and Matt Adams away last week. Both of those guys were starters and two of the better hitters for the Nats. To say the lineup did not respond well would be quite the understatement. The Nats got shut out in three straight games against the Phillies and Mets and had just one run through seven innings last night before they finally broke out of their slump and hammered the Mets bullpen for fourteen runs in two innings.
Its hard to argue that the explosion last night wasn’t just a fluke. This team lost a lot of what little power they had in this lineup, and they aren’t going to be scoring a lot of runs down the stretch. Between the Nationals bats in freefall and Strasburg not being able to get past four innings in a game in nearly three months, it is quite shocking to see them as favorites in this one.
Throw in the fact that the Phillies have been one of the best home teams in the National League all season long and I am left scratching my head. Yeah, the Phillies struggled last week, but that was on the road, they are just a different team at home this year.
I hate to bet against a guy that is as talented as Steven Strasburg is. When healthy, he is one of the best pitchers in the game. But right now, he is just trading on his name as he has been dreadful most of the year. I expect him to struggle again tonight, and with the ways these Nats bats have been swinging I don’t expect them to bail him out. Give me the Philadelphia Phillies as home underdogs tonight at +110 in game one!