Bet Nationals Over Rangers in Unusually Early Start Time Saturday

Matthew Jordan

Friday, June 9, 2017 4:04 PM UTC

Friday, Jun. 9, 2017 4:04 PM UTC

It’s the earliest-starting game on a Saturday thus far in 2017 with 12:05 p.m. ET first pitch from D.C. as the Washington Nationals host the Texas Rangers in the second of a three-game interleague series.

MLB Season Record: 19-14 (one game pending)

Texas Rangers At Washington Nationals (-190, 9)

The Nationals host the Rangers in Game 2 of an interleague series Saturday, and I think this is starting very early at 12:05 p.m. ET because of the massive Capital Pride parade in the city later in the afternoon.

This is the only series in the majors this weekend that features two playoffs teams from last year. The Rangers are defending AL West champions, but they aren’t going back to the postseason in 2017 barring a miracle turnaround with the club well under .500 and already two touchdowns behind the Astros in the division. I suppose a wild-card spot is possible.

The only way Washington doesn’t repeat as NL East champion is if aliens kidnap Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. The Nats have a huge lead in the division and are just behind the Cubs at +280 on MLB futures odds to win the first pennant in franchise history.

Texas and Washington do have one interesting thing in common: Both blew it by not signing free-agent reliever Greg Holland this offseason. Those two were reportedly finalists with the Colorado Rockies, who won the bidding. Holland has been perhaps the best reliever in baseball thus far – leading in saves by a mile -- and is a key reason why the Rockies are leading the NL West.

The Rangers and Nationals have had major issues at closer this year. Texas started the season with Sam Dyson there, but he was so bad that the team designated him for assignment and this week traded him for essentially a bag of balls to the Giants. The Rangers are 25th in bullpen ERA and have blown a whopping 11 saves. Washington has used a few guys at closer and is still likely to trade for one. The Nats’ bullpen ranks 28th in ERA and has blown nine saves.

A few injury notes here: Rangers first baseman Mike Napoli and Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth are both on the DL. Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre injured his ankle earlier this week and is iffy. He has played just seven games this season after missing the first two months due to a calf strain. Beltre could land on the DL by the time you read this. Keep in mind that Texas loses the DH for this series. That’s usually Shin-Soo Choo, Napoli or Ryan Rua.


Saturday’s Probable Pitchers

It’s lefty Martin Perez (2-6, 4.64) for Texas, which has dropped his past three outings. He has given up five earned each in the past two – home vs. Houston and Tampa Bay – along with 16 hits and four homers over just 8.2 innings. Perez is 0-2 with a 4.29 ERA on the road this season.

Perez has never faced Washington in his career, but a few Nats have faced him while with other teams. Matt Wieters is 3-for-6 with a double and RBI. Ryan Raburn is 2-for-4 with a walk. Raburn wouldn’t normally play but was called up earlier this week when worth landed on the DL.

Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez (5-1, 3.03) is on a two-start winning streak. He won at the Dodgers on Monday, allowing two runs and four hits over six innings. In two interleague starts, vs. the Mariners and Orioles, Gonzalez is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA in 11.1 innings. He hasn’t faced Texas since 2011. Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy hits him well (.615, 3 RBIs in 13 at-bats). Beltre hammers him (8-for-19, 3 HRs, 8 RBIs) so Gonzalez surely will be happy he’s not likely in the lineup.


Reasoning For Pick

Gonzalez has been a beast at home with a 1.69 ERA in six starts and he’s 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in six daytime starts. Perez is an astonishing 4-16 with a 5.15 ERA in 30 road starts in his career. Texas has lost his past four vs. teams with a winning record, while the Nats are 6-2 in their past eight vs. lefties. Add in the Rangers missing two big bats (plus the DH), and Washington is the clear MLB pick here. Better value on the run line if you want to lean that way. 

Free MLB Pick: Nationals RL (+100)Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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