We picked up about as easy of a win as we are ever going to last night when we backed the Atlanta Braves against the San Francisco Giants. And it’s not that game was a blowout or anything, it’s just that this Giants team has clearly given up at this point and they could barely muster a run yesterday. Mike Foltynewicz ended up throwing a complete game for the Braves and had a shutout intact until the ninth inning. The Giants scored one meaningless run in the ninth, but the game had already been decided at that point, and we picked up another winner.
This Giants team has now lost ten straight games and they are just not trying anymore. Since San Francisco made the moves to trade Andrew McCutchen to the New York Yankees and shutdown Buster Posey, this team is just going through the motions. It is baseball, so they can’t lose all of the games left on their schedule, but don’t be shocked if they lose most of them. For the Braves, they look to have all but locked up the National League East Division title as they now hold a six and a half game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies for first place. For today’s pick, I will take a look at those Phillies as they host the Washington Nationals.
The Washington Nationals are in Philadelphia Wednesday trying to play spoiler as they look to ruin the Phillies postseason chances with another upset victory. The Nationals have taken the first two games of this series and are looking for the sweep tonight in game three. Last night’s loss was especially devastating for the Phillies as they held a three-run lead heading into the ninth inning only to see the Nats tie it up late and win the game in extra frames.
Similar to the Giants, the Nationals have unloaded a lot of their talent recently, but unlike San Francisco, this team is still playing hard despite their limited resources. For the Phillies, they must win and win right now if they want to sneak back into contention as they are falling further and further back in both their division and in the wild-card race.
Starting tonight for the Nationals is Steven Strasburg (7-7 4.04 ERA), and for the Phillies, it is Aaron Nola (16-4 2.29 ERA). The Phillies are -128 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at seven runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM PST from Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philly.
What has happened to the Philadelphia Phillies recently? This team has been in the thick of the playoff chase all season long but have fallen off a cliff recently. Philly has lost eight out of ten games in the month of September and throw in the fact that the Atlanta Braves have been red-hot, and the division race is basically over. The Phillies still have some hope in the wild-card, but they would need to jump three teams to get back into it, so the chances are slim and none, and slim is sneaking out the back door.
If the Phillies are to get back into it, they need Aaron Nola to be at his very best. It is hard to ask much more from Aaron Nola this season, the guy has been absolutely fantastic and will get his fair share of Cy Young Award votes this season. In August, he went 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA in five starts. The guy has been transcendent for Philly.
Nola has been struggling just a bit here down the stretch though as in September he is 1-1 with a 4.97 ERA. But that was mostly just one rough outing against the Chicago Cubs that is making his numbers look worse than they are. On the season, the Phillies have won nineteen of his last twenty-five starts. Nola has carried this team all season long, and they need another big performance out of him tonight.
The Nationals will look to one of their best arms tonight in Steven Strasburg. Strasburg has spent most of the season on the DL, but he seems to be healthy now, and his results are starting to turn around. After a slow start, Strasburg has been decent in his last three outings. In a combined seventeen and two-thirds of an inning of work over his last three starts, Strasburg has allowed just six earned runs.
That is not exactly elite, but it is much better than he was doing early in the season when his ERA swelled to as high as four and a half runs. Strasburg has faced the Phillies twice in the last couple of weeks and has an ERA of 6.30, however, despite his struggles, the Nationals managed to win both games.
Look, I know the Phillies are really struggling right now, but to see Aaron Nola valued so low was quite shocking. All season long this guy has gotten the job done and tonight against this depleted Nats lineup, I expect him to dominate. Nola owned the Nats before they traded away the heart of their lineup. In two late August starts against Washington, Nola pitched a combined fifteen innings and allowed just one earned run while striking out seventeen.
In two late June starts against the Nats, Nola was nearly as good as he pitched thirteen and two-thirds of an inning and allowed just three earned runs and the Phillies won both games. We have a lot of data on Nola facing off against this Washington team, and all of it points to him be spectacular again tonight. Give me the Philadelphia Phillies as small home favorites tonight in game three at -128!