It's arguably the best team in the majors in Washington -- not by record yet but in overall talent when healthy -- against probably the worst in Milwaukee in a series finale on Sunday afternoon. The Nats are -158 road favorites on BetOnline's MLB odds with a total of 7.5.
Bryce Harper Musings
Interesting story this week by ESPN's Buster Olney, who is as plugged in as anyone on baseball goings on. Olney wrote he thinks it's "inevitable" that Harper winds up with the New York Yankees when he becomes a free agent after the 2018 season. There's no question the Yankees like to sign or trade for superstars to fill the seats, and there's also 100 percent no doubt that Harper will test the market then because he's represented by Scott Boras and Boras always has his clients test the market because that means more money. Harper will be just 26 when he hits free agency and Alex Rodriguez's monster contract will be off the Yanks' books by then. I find it hard to believe Washington would let him go but it might not have a choice. You just aren't outspending the Yankees, and Harper might want to play with the marquee franchise in American sports. I'll be honest in that I thought Harper was vastly overrated entering this season, but he's only 22 and is your clear National League MVP right now. His top competition figures to come from Miami's Giancarlo Stanton, Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt and the Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez.
The Nationals haven't run away with the NL East yet (they will eventually) because they have yet to have their full allotment of key players healthy at once. Anthony Rendon, the team's best offensive player last year, didn't make his season debut until June 4. Outfielder Jayson Werth has played only 27 games this season and is out until likely early August. Twenty percent of that stellar rotation is currently on the disabled list in Stephen Strasburg, although he hasn't been very good this season, and Doug Fister. And first baseman Ryan Zimmerman joined them there this week with continued plantar fasciitis trouble. It has bothered him all season so perhaps it explains why Zimmerman is hitting just .209 with five homers 34 RBIs. His .611 on-base-plus-slugging percentage is the worst among qualified major league first basemen. The Nats will mostly platoon right-handed hitting Tyler Moore and left-handed Clint Robinson there until Zimmerman returns.
When Bovada released its updated NL Cy Young Awards MLB odds last week, Washington's Max Scherzer (6-5, 2.13) was the favorite and he gets the call here. He probably isn't the favorite any longer, losing back-to-back starts against American League clubs. He allowed four runs (season-high two homers) over six innings in a 7-3 home defeat to Toronto on June 2 and then four runs and eight hits over 6.2 innings on Tuesday in a 6-1 loss at the Yankees in losing a projected pitching duel against Masahiro Tanaka. Scherzer is 3-2 with a 1.55 ERA in six away starts in 2015 and 4-1 in his past five at sportsbooks vs. teams with a losing record. He hasn't faced the Brewers since 2009. Thus only a few have seen him. Ryan Braun is 0-for-7 with four strikeouts. Adam Lind is 1-for-8 with a solo homer. Aramis Ramirez is 1-for-3 with a double. You hear rumors the Brewers and Mets are talking about a potential Ramirez deal to fill the spot of the injured David Wright. The Brewers are likely to start selling off pieces as they aren't going anywhere. Ramirez wouldn't bring much back other than salary relief. He's struggling and will retire after the season, or so he says.
Milwaukee starts rookie right-hander Taylor Jungmann. The 25-year-old, a 2011 first-round pick by the Brewers, was very good in his big-league debut Tuesday in Pittsburgh, holding the Pirates to one run and three hits over seven innings, striking out five and walking one. Jungmann was promoted to take the spot of the injured Wily Peralta, but Manager Craig Counsell said the rookie definitely earned at least one more start. Jungmann, who has a rather unorthodox delivery, was just 2-3 with a 6.37 ERA at Triple-A Colorado Springs before the call-up.
MLB Picks: Now that Scherzer doesn't have to worry about the designated hitter any longer, take the Nats and the 'under' at BetOnline