This handicapper isn't exactly going out on a limb by expecting a low-scoring affair when Max Scherzer and Francisco Liriano face-off Saturday afternoon in DC. Where does the smart money lay?
Pirates-Nats Saturday Betting Odds
As of early Saturday AM the best line we could find on Washington and Max Scherzer was the -124 offered at Pinnacle, while Pittsburgh and Francisco Liriano could be found getting +120 at WagerWeb.
Washington took Game 1 of this series Friday night 4-1, cashing in as a +110 home dog. Still, the Nats (35-33) are only 4-5 over their last nine games, while the loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Pirates (39-28).
Washington's Bryce Harper missed Friday's game with a bad hamstring, and probably won't play today, either.
This is the first series matching these teams this season; last season the Nats took four of seven games from the Bucs.
Scherzer (7-5, 1.93) is 10/13 on quality starts this season, and coming off a dominating performance against Milwaukee last Sunday in which he gave up one bloop base hit and struck out 16 in a complete-game victory. However, he lost his two previous starts against the Blue Jays and Yankees by allowing eight runs and three home runs. On the season Scherzer owns some crazy numbers, allowing just 68 hits through 93 innings, with 14 walks against 113 strikeouts; Washington is 8-5 in Scherzer's starts, with the totals leaning UNDER by an 8-4 margin.
Last year, pitching for Detroit, Scherzer started once against Pittsburgh, tossing eight innings of three-hit, shutout ball, with 14 whiffs, in a 5-2 Tigers win.
Liriano (4-5, 2.94) is also 10/13 on quality starts, working on a string of five in a row. Monday he shut out the White Sox on two hits through eight innings, with a dozen strikeouts, and over his last five starts he's allowed just five runs through 35 innings. On the season Liriano has given up just 52 hits through 83 innings, with 27 walks and 99 strikeouts; thanks to some hard luck the Pirates are only 4-9 in Liriano's starts, with the totals going 6-4.
In two career starts against the Nationals Liriano has allowed four runs through 12 2/3 innings; Pittsburgh split those two games.
Free MLB Picks
We missed with our pick on Pittsburgh Friday, and going against Scherzer is tough to do, but the value on today's line resides with the Pirates. Also, Pittsburgh is playing a lot of UNDERS lately, so we'll ride that lean.