Cut Some Nationals Chalk with a Run Line MLB Pick Against Orioles

Willie Bee

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 2:52 PM GMT

The Orioles and Nationals continue their series in the nation's capital on Wednesday, and we've got a game preview plus a free baseball pick for the clash.

It's not official just yet with the New York Mets' magic number now at six. But it's safe to go on and stick a fork in the Washington Nationals' playoff chances, and safe to say their exclusion from the postseason will go down as one of the bigger surprises of 2015.

Though their playoff chances are all but dead, the sports books love their chances Wednesday night at home against the Baltimore Orioles. Washington is a -175 favorite at BetOnline behind Max Scherzer in the 7:05 PM (ET) contest, Baltimore countering with Chris Tillman. MLB odds for the affair also include a 7 run total that is taxed a little heavier on the 'over.'

 

O's Grab Game 1 Behind Strong Pitching
After Monday's original series opener was rained out, the series got underway last night with the Orioles taking a 4-1 victory. Ubaldo Jimenez managed to pitch around Washington star Bryce Harper and limit the rest of the Washington lineup to three hits, his bullpen completing the combined 3-hitter over the last three innings. The clubs will make up Monday's washout this Thursday with a matinee at Nationals Park.

Baltimore hasn't lost a season series to the Nats since 2007, and needs just one win either tonight or in Thursday's makeup to keep that streak intact with the clubs an even 2-2 now in 2015. The Nationals took two of three at Camden Yards just prior to the all-star break, 'under' bettors also cashing twice. The 'over' was on a 6-game run in the nation's capital prior to Tuesday's matchup.

 

Tillman Suffering Through Awful September
Following two decent campaigns in 2013-14, all signs pointed to Tillman having a fine year at or near the top of the Baltimore rotation this season, but that just hasn't been the case. His strikeout-to-walk ratio has slid while the righthander is allowing more hits, and his WAR has gone into the red after three successive years on the positive side.

It looked like he was turning things around in July before taking a step back in August, and September has been a complete disaster with a 9.64 ERA in four starts that totaled just 18.2 innings. Washington had given him trouble before a solid start against the Nationals in July, Tillman working six and allowing just two runs. He has held Bryce Harper in check over the years, limiting the Washington outfielder to just one single in six at bats, Tillman whiffing him three times.

Scherzer gets the ball for his 31st start of the year, and fifth in September with the Nationals winning three of four so far. He's coming off back-to-back starts against the Marlins, each one a Washington dubya with Scherzer totaling 15 frames and only two runs allowed. The former Mizzou standout missed a complete game by an out vs. the Orioles back in July, still picking up the victory by holding Baltimore to four hits and two runs at Camden Yards. Adam Jones has been a very, very tough matchup, the O's outfielder hitting .500 (11-22) with three homers off Scherzer.

 

Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Completing just his second full season in the bigs, Mark Ripperger is expected to call balls and strikes this evening. It's the 26th plate assignment this year for the 35 year old, totals so far running 10-14-1 O/U/P after a similar 'under' lean in 2014. It's also the first time this season Ripperger has worked the dish in a game involving either the Orioles or Nationals, and the only plate assignment of his career in Washington was a real humdinger of a contest as the Marlins bombed the Nats, 15-7. Home chalk is 12-4 when Ripperger calls balls and strikes.

With one game already rained out, it's definitely worth keeping an eye on the DC weather. The good news is there's zero chance of rain getting in the way of Wednesday's tilt, clear skies and 72º the forecast for the start of the game, a light NNE breeze blowing in from right-center. Given Tillman's recent form, I'm cutting some of that Washington chalk with a run line play on the home team for my free MLB Pick.

My Pick: Nationals -1½ (+115) at BetOnline.

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