Max Scherzer dominated the Pirates Saturday, holding them without a hit, as the Nationals clinched a series victory. But this handicapper believes Pittsburgh can bounce back and avoid the sweep Sunday.
Pirates-Nats Free Picks
As of early Sunday AM the best line we could find on Washington and Gio Gonzalez was the -115 offered at WagerWeb, while GT Bets was giving Pittsburgh and Charlie Morton +112. And most shops were listing the total on today's game at 7.5 runs.
Washington has taken the first two games of this series, after winning Saturday 6-0 behind a Max Scherzer no-hitter. The Nats also won Friday 4-1.
So Washington (36-33) now leads the NL East by a half-game over the second-place Mets, while Pittsburgh (39-29) now trails first-place St. Louis by six games in the NL Central.
Gonzalez (4-4, 4.82) posted back-to-back quality outings to begin this month, holding the Cubs and Yankees to four runs through 12 1/3 innings, but last time out the Rays touched him for five runs in less than four innings. Washington is just 1-3 in Gonzo's last four starts.
Last year Gonzalez started once against Pittsburgh, allowing three runs through five innings of a 4-3 Nationals victory.
Morton (5-0, 1.62) hasn't allowed a run in his last two starts, covering 14 1/3 innings against the Brewers and White Sox, and in five tries this season he's produced four quality starts. Pittsburgh is 5-0 for Morton, with games going UNDER the MLB odds total 3-1-1.
Morton started twice last year against Washington, giving up six runs through 8 2/3 innings; the Pirates split those two games.
Sunday's Free Picks
We give Morton the edge in the pitching match-up, so we like Pittsburgh to avoid the sweep, getting the underdog price. Also, the Pirates are trending hard toward the UNDERS as of late, and we'll ride that for our MLB picks on Sunday.