Cash In This Free MLB Pick On Pirates vs. Nationals Saturday Game

Jason Lake

Saturday, July 16, 2016 1:45 PM UTC

Saturday, Jul. 16, 2016 1:45 PM UTC

Even with the back end of the rotation coming up, the Washington Nationals are home favorites on Saturday's MLB odds board versus Gerrit Cole and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Washington Nationals are a money-making machine when Stephen Strasburg is on the mound. The rest of the time? Not so much. The Nationals (55-36, +5.19 units) are down almost nine betting units this year without Strasburg, on a record of 39-35. Harrumph.

Don't blame Tanner Roark, though. He's more than held up his end of the bargain, posting a 3.25 FIP for the Nats. Alas, they're only 10-8 behind Roark for 1.06 units in earnings, giving him just 3.79 runs per game in support. That might not cut it Saturday night (7:05 p.m. ET) against the Pittsburgh Pirates and their top pitcher, Gerrit Cole. Washington's a –115 home fave on the MLB odds board at press time, with a total of eight runs.

I Am Mr. Roark, Your Host
That total does look pretty tasty. There might not be much profit margin with either side on the moneyline; FiveThirtyEight sees Washington winning this game 51 percent of the time, which works out to –104 on our SBR Betting Odds Converter. You do use the SBR Betting Odds Converter, don't you? All the cool kids are using it.

So there might be a shade of betting value on the Pirates (46-44, +3.33 units). They're 9-3 in their last dozen games to pull back above .500. However, Cole (3.10 FIP) hasn't gotten much help from Pittsburgh's bullpen, which ranks No. 25 in the majors at 0.6 WAR. Pittsburgh is just 6-6 behind Cole for a loss of 1.67 units. Plus, Cole is making his return from the DL after missing over a month with a strained right triceps.

We're on the horns of a dilemma, folks. The UNDER is 11-6-1 for the Nats when Roark is on the hill, but just 4-8 when Cole starts for Pittsburgh. Dangnabbit. I suppose we'll end up fading the Pirates for our MLB picks, but Cole did perform very well at AAA-Indianapolis in his rehab assignment, so you may want to size your wager appropriately.


Welcome to Fantasy Corner
Before we go, let's see if we can give your fantasy team a boost. As well as Cole has pitched, he's had trouble in the past versus OF Ben Revere (.569 OPS). That's a light hitter right there. However, Revere is 7-for-12 lifetime against Cole – all singles, naturally – with a 1.167 OPS. Good thing Revere also has 10 stolen bases this year, which is the main reason why he's owned in 36.5 percent of ESPN leagues at press time. That, and the W on his chest.

Actually, one other thing: Washington 2B Daniel Murphy (.985) was scratched from Friday's matchup after he tweaked his left hamstring during the All-Star Game. Will Murphy play Saturday? We don't know. Keep an eye on the injury reports, and consider the UNDER if he sits out again. Otherwise, go Nats?

Free MLB Pick: Nationals –113
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline
Record: 17-16 ML, 5-3-1 Totals (+3.47 units)

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