We picked up a nice win last night, to run our record to 5-2 on the week when we backed the St. Louis Cardinals at home against the Milwaukee Brewers. This seemed like a fairly evenly matched game, but I liked backing the Cards at home as they had the fourth-best home winning percentage in the majors heading into last night’ s game. The Brewers had struggled on the road all season long and had lost five out of their last seven games. So, when the early morning betting action moved the Cardinals from home favorites, to even money, it created even more value, and I jumped all over the Cardinals.
The game was actually a lot closer than the final score might show you as the score was 1-0 through five innings. St. Louis made a somewhat controversial choice to pull starting pitcher Michael Wacha, who was absolutely cruising, after just four innings of work as they ended up pinch-hitting for Wacha with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth.
They couldn’t capitalize on the scoring opportunity, and with Wacha out of the game, the Cardinals bullpen quickly gave up their 1-0 lead, allowing two runs in the sixth inning. In my pick yesterday I mentioned that I was looking to fade the Brewers bullpen, who have been used and abused the last several games. And once Milwaukee turned things over to the pen, the wheels fell off for the Brewers.
St. Louis ended up scoring eight runs on five different Milwaukee relievers in just four innings. The big hit was a bases-loaded double by Dexter Fowler that broke up a 2-2 tie and gave the Cards the lead for good. With the win, the Cardinals put even more distance between themselves and the Brewers in the Central Division race.
Milwaukee is now four games back and fading quickly. The Chicago Cubs found a win against the San Francisco Giants yesterday and remain just a half of a game back of the Cardinals. It looks like it is going to be a finish for the ages again this year in the NL Central Division. For today’s pick, we will head to Pittsburgh, where the Pirates host the Nationals.
The Washington Nationals are in Pittsburgh Wednesday for game three of a four-game series against the Pirates. The series is all tied up at once game apiece heading into game three tonight. The Nats have gone from playoff long shot to wild card favorites in just a couple of week’s time, and right now hold a one-game lead over the Cubs for the first wild card slot in the NL. The Nationals have won ten out of their last fourteen games.
For the Pirates, they had done a decent job of staying competitive most of the season, but they opened up August by losing eight straight games to fall out of the playoff conversation. The Pirates have lost four out of their last six games, and are in last place in the central, a whopping fifteen and a half games back of the Cardinals for first place.
Starting tonight for the Nationals is Patrick Corbin (9-5 3.34 ERA), and for the Pirates it is Joe Musgrove (8-11 4.59 ERA). The game total over-under is set at nine runs. The Nationals are -145 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM PST from PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Patrick Corbin was brought in to be a strong number three in the Washington rotation behind Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. And for the most part, he has lived up to that hype. Corbin is top five in the NL in strikeouts with 180. Two of the guys ahead of him in punchouts? Scherzer and Strasburg. And his ERA is a very respectable 3.34.
In July, he was nearly unhittable as he had a 1.94 ERA in six starts, and the Nationals won five out of those sox games. In August, he started out a bit slow as he got roughed up by the Arizona Diamondbacks, but in his last two starts, he has thrown a combined twelve innings and has allowed just three earned runs, with sixteen strikeouts. Against the Pirates earlier this season, Corbin tossed a gem, as he pitched seven innings, allowing just one run while striking out a season-high eleven.
Joe Musgrove has a big task at hand tonight. This Nationals team has finally decided to start swinging the bats here in August. Washington is leading the National League in runs scored in August and had scored double-digit runs in four of their previous five games before last night’s game. We saw just how powerful this Washington offense can be in game one of this series where they scored thirteen runs.
Musgrove was solid in his last start against the Chicago Cubs, but for the month of August, he has a 0-2 record with a 7.31 ERA in three starts. This guy had an ERA of under two runs at the end of April, but he has really struggled since then. He has allowed five runs or more in a start seven times since May 1st. Ouch.
This is a mismatch. We see a lot of these late in the season where one team is pushing hard for the playoffs, and the other team is just trying to play out the rest of the season and evaluate talent for the future. Winning just isn’t a priority right now for the Pirates, and it shows. So, clearly, the side to be on is Washington. And the -145 price isn’t all that unattractive.
But when I take a look at the run line, I see that I can get the Nats with some dog money. Now that sounds juicy! Corbin is likely to completely shut this team down tonight. Remember when I mentioned earlier that the Nats lead the NL in scoring here in August? Well, the Pirates are on the opposite end of that spectrum as they are fourteenth out of fifteen in the league in runs scored. With only the hapless Miami Marlins one run behind them.
I see Corbin getting us six or seven strong innings with lots of strikeouts, and the Nationals hammering Joe Musgrove. I don’t know if it will get out of hand as it did in game one when the Nationals punished the Pirates to the tune of thirteen runs on fifteen hits, but it just might. Either way I see the Nationals cruising to the victory by multiple runs, so I will take advantage of the run line and go for the bigger payout. Give me the Washington Nationals laying a run and a half tonight in game three from Pittsburgh!