A few different strength verses strength, and perceived weakness verses weakness dynamics work against each other in this early season divisional matchup, opening the door for value on betting the total in this South Beach contest.
The Washington Nationals, winners of seven of their last eight games, sit atop the National League East standings, and have consistently padded the pockets of their backers this season. Washington is up over 6 units year to date, but tonight the Nat’s will face off against Miami Marlins’ ace Jose Fernandez. The Marlins welcome the NL East leaders to town for the first time this season with 23 year-old Fernandez opposing Tanner Roark, who is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA. A few different strength verses strength, and perceived weakness verses weakness dynamics work against each other in this early season divisional matchup, opening the door for value on betting the total in this South Beach contest.
For the Washington Nationals, Tanner Roark, the former 25th round draft pick, has more than surpassed expectations. The former Illini pitcher has a major league career ERA of just over three, sitting at 3.10 with a 1.14 WHIP since breaking though the minors in 2013. Roark has flown under the radar in his brief MLB career and has historically performed well at Marlins Park, having posted a 2.39 ERA in 6 appearances. While Roark isn’t a pitcher that will overwhelm the opposing lineup, he has had success keeping batters off balance and should continue to benefit from the pitcher-friendly dimensions of Marlins Park.
The Marlins send Jose Fernandez to the mound tonight, and while his numbers may be down, he has pitched better than his elevated 5.06 ERA would suggest. Fernandez struck out 13 in his 2016 debut against the talented Detroit Tigers lineup, and then surrendered just one run over five innings to the New York Mets last Tuesday. Entering this season at 17-0 with a 1.40 ERA and 192 strikeouts in his career at Marlins Park, Fernandez has dominated the opposition, holding batters to a .180 average. Even though his home winning streak was snapped, the peripheral numbers do not suggest Fernandez is that far off from his previous years of dominance in south Florida’s pitchers paradise.
Key pieces of the Nationals lineup Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy, Jason Worth, Wilson Ramos have all struggled over the course of their careers against Fernandez, and additionally, Fernandez has not only been dominant at home, he has been stellar in April with a .555 OPS against in his career. This all points to his last home start being a statistical outlier, and projects tonight’s performance to be of the bounce-back variety.
Miami’s lineup has underperformed so far when looking back at preseason expectations. “The Fish” are coming off of a four game skid, and did not face the most talented pitching staff in the Braves’ starting rotation over the weekend. To be frank, the Marlins have been simply inept offensively. The center piece of the Marlins lineup, Giancarlo Stanton struck out seven times in the series and saw his batting average drop to .205 for the year.
My numbers project this final score to fall short of the posted total of seven. Both bullpens are rested, and coupled with the eagerness of Nationals manager Dusty Baker to get Jonathan Papelbon an appearance to get his confidence back after yesterday’s blown save, gives each lineup an added issue in the later innings. I recommend a wager on under getting plus money, which you can find as high as +110 right now.