Back Strasburg & Nationals As Your MLB Pick vs. Tigers In Opener

Matthew Jordan

Monday, May 9, 2016 1:05 PM UTC

Monday, May. 9, 2016 1:05 PM UTC

Two good teams look to end losing streaks on Monday night when the Tigers visit Washington in interleague action. The Nationals are -183 on MLB odds with a total of 7½.

What You Need To Know
A little over a week ago, if you told me this was a potential World Series preview, I might have believed it. And maybe it still could be, but the Tigers enter on a season-high six game losing streak to fall under .500 at 14-16. They were swept at Cleveland and home against Texas last week. The pitching was largely to blame, and the Tigers aren't going anywhere this season if they don't upgrade the rotation. It was the first Texas sweep of Detroit in a series of at least three games since August 2004. You are starting to hear rumblings that Tigers manager Brad Ausmus could be in trouble.

Washington was swept four games over the weekend at the Chicago Cubs, who are clearly the best team in baseball, as the Nationals fell out of first place in the National League East. There was history made in the Nats' 4-3 13-inning loss on Sunday. Superstar Bryce Harper set an MLB record by reaching base seven times without an official at-bat. He tied a league record with six walks and was hit by a pitch in his other at-bat. Cubs manager Joe Maddon intentionally walked Harper in the 10th and 12th innings with runners on first and second base with two outs both times. That's the full Barry Bonds treatment. The guy hitting behind Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, left a whopping 14 men on base Sunday. You might see opposing managers continue this trend unless Zimmerman starts hitting. He's only batting .236. Harper got off to a scorching-hot start but is down to .265. He is hitting .190 with a single homer this month.

Keep in mind that since this game is in the National League park, the Tigers will lose the designated hitter. That's Victor Martinez, who is hitting .311 with five homers and 18 RBIs. You will no doubt see him pinch-hit at some point. It is possible that Martinez could play some first base, but that means benching Miguel Cabrera.


Probable Pitchers
The Tigers start right-hander Anibal Sanchez here. Sanchez (3-3, 5.87) has been quite inconsistent with three starts allowing at least four earned runs and three allowing exactly two earned. He took the loss in Cleveland on Wednesday, allowing four runs and four hits over seven innings. He went seven innings for the first time since last July so that's something. "Right now, I'm not sure we know exactly what to expect from him," Ausmus admitted. Plenty of Nationals have faced Sanchez. Harper is 3-for-9 with two triples, a homer and two RBIs. Zimmerman is 11-for-48 with a homer, three RBIs and eight strikeouts. Jayson Werth is 6-for-33 with a homer and 20 strikeouts. Perhaps he gets the night off. Wilson Ramos is 5-for-16. Ben Revere 1-for-5. Sanchez is facing the Nationals for the first time since July 2013 but is 9-1 with a 1.98 ERA in 21 starts against them. The Tigers are 2-5 on MLB odds in Sanchez's past seven road starts overall.

The Nationals go with ace Stephen Strasburg (5-0, 2.36), who looks to start 6-0 for the first time in his career. Last time out, he beat the Royals in Kansas City, allowing two runs and five hits over six innings -- he has gone at least six in every start. Strasburg certainly is in the early conversation for the Cy Young Award and he's probably going to get north of $200 million from some team (Yankees?) as a free agent this offseason. Detroit's Justin Upton has faced Strasburg more than any Tiger, going 9-for-31 with two homers, five RBIs and eight strikeouts. Cabrera is 1-for-4. J.D. Martinez is 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Strasburg hasn't lost his past six interleague starts, although the last American League team to beat him was Detroit in July 2013. The Nationals are 4-0 on MLB picks in Strasburg's past four at home.

MLB Free Picks: Washington and 'under.' Detroit is 2-6 in its past eight in Game 1 of a series. Washington is 20-6 in Strasburg's past 26 after a quality start in his most recent appearance. The 'under' is 3-1-1 in Washington's past five at home. 

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Free MLB Pick: Nationals -180 & Under 7½
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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