Free MLB Picks & Betting Preview For Nationals vs. Royals 3 Game Series

Willie Bee

Tuesday, May 3, 2016 5:37 PM GMT

The Nationals have started their road trip with four consecutive wins, but they are small underdogs on the MLB odds for tonight's middle game of a set in Kansas City.

4th May
Nationals vs. Royals Game 3

Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays 
Alex Gordon had just one hit Tuesday night, and it never left the infield. Still, it triggered a 3-run rally in the ninth to help the Kansas City Royals to a 7-6 win and even their series with the Washington Nationals.

The two clubs will decide matters with a Hump Day matinee (2:15 PM ET) at Kauffman Stadium, Stephen Strasburg toiling on the bump for Washington and Kris Medlen called upon for KC. Strasburg and the Nats are chalked in the -140s on the MLB odds, BetOnline hawking 7½ for the total with the 'under' juiced to -120.

 

Medlen Sees Nationals For 1st Time In 3 Seasons
Backing the Nationals when Strasburg pitches has been the way to go so far in 2016, Washington winning each of his five April starts while the righty delivered a 2.25 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 36 innings. He has been solid away from home (21 IP, 3 ER), those outings coming in Atlanta, Miami and St. Louis. Wednesday will be just the second time Strasburg has faced the Royals, the first coming during his rookie 2010 campaign (6 IP, 1 ER, 9 K).

Medlen had just the one bad outing in April when the Orioles bombed him for seven runs in less than four innings of work. Walks have been the biggest issue, the Californian issuing 16 free passes in just over 20 frames to date, and Medlen is coming off a 1-0 loss at Seattle last Friday when he put five on via the BB. He did a good job facing the Nationals while he was with Atlanta during the early part of his career, going up against them 14 times (4 starts) and recording a 1.22 ERA.

 

Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
It is with great trepidation that I deliver the following message: CB Bucknor will call balls and strikes this afternoon in Kansas City. Bucknor has started 2016 by showing no favoritism on totals, his first three plate assignments splitting the baseball odds 1-1-1 O/U/P. That is right in line with his record the last two seasons (28-29-4), with all three of his last games under the mask on this diamond skipping past the marks.

It should be a nice afternoon in Kansas City with sunny skies and temps in the upper-60s for the series finale. It's been a rather cloudy week for Bryce Harper, however, who is 2-for-26 since last Wednesday without an RBI. The Nats need him to come out of that funk, but even without him today I still like Strasburg & Co. for my free MLB pick.

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Free MLB Pick: Nationals -142
Best Line Offered: at Heritage
Season: 19-14 (+6.35)

3rd May
Nationals vs. Royals Game 2

 

If you attended last night's series opener between the Washington Nationals and Kansas City Royals, I hope you arrived early. Otherwise, you missed all of the scoring excitement in Washington's 2-0 victory, the fourth straight on the road for the Nationals.

Gio Gonzalez and four relievers whitewashed the Royals who have been struggling to score runs all season. Kansas City ranks 28th in the majors averaging 3.24 runs per game, and Ned Yost is hopeful is lineup can break out tonight (8:15 PM ET) in Game 2 when veteran Chris Young climbs the hill in KC to battle Tanner Roark of the Nats. The Royals are once again small chalk on the MLB odds, Pinnacle selling them at -114 on the morning line with an 8 run total for scoreboard bettors to consider.

 

1st Career Start vs. KC For Roark
Roark will be looking to extend his current string of scoreless innings when he takes the mound in the bottom of the first, that stretch now at 15. Each of his last two appearances lasted seven innings with only two hits allowed, the 29 year old sending 21 batters back to their dugouts with a K on the scorecard. It does bear mentioning that his three best assignments -- each one 7 IP, 0 ER -- came against the Braves, Twins and Phillies, none of which employs Murderer's Row for their lineups. Roark faced the Royals for one long relief appearance in 2013, his only experience against KC.

With only one quality start in five trips to the mound this year, Young is hoping May treats him much kinder than April when the Royals lost four of his assignments and the big righty recorded a 6.12 ERA. He'll be facing the Nationals for the first time since 2012 when Young was with the Mets, but has generally pitched well in the past against Washington.  In nine career starts vs. the Nats, Young is 3-2 with a 3.39 ERA.

 

Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Fieldin Henry Culbreth the Third has begun his 24th season at the major league level working two 'overs' and an 'under' in his three plate assignments. If he follows his trends in recent years (64-89-6 O/U/P 2011-15), we should see the low side of the baseball odds in the winner's circle more often than not.

Weather won't be an issue for this game with clear skies and the mid-to-upper 60s forecast for the first pitch. Kansas City's sluggish offense is an issue for me, however, which is why I'm backing the small road pups with my free MLB pick.

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Free MLB Pick: Nationals +110 
Best Line Offered: at Heritage
Season: 19-13 (+7.35)

 

2nd May
Nationals vs. Royals Game 1

 

The first stop on a big 3-city road trip for the Washington Nationals was a huge success as they broomed three from the Cardinals in St. Louis over the weekend. Now we get to see if Dusty Baker and his club can keep it going in Kansas City the next three days against the defending world champion Royals.

The somewhat rare meeting between the teams cranks up Monday night (8:15 PM ET) at Kauffman Stadium where the MLB odds suggest a very tight affair. Pinnacle was selling KC as -113 chalk on the morning line for the series opener that features Gio Gonzalez and Edinson Volquez dueling on the mound. The total is 7½ across the baseball betting board, all sports books in agreement on the 'under' for the early pricing lean.

 

Royals Coming Home After 1-5 Road Trip
Washington begins the fist full week of May atop the NL East with a 17-7 record, good enough for a game-&-a-half lead over the New York Mets and 2½ in front of the surprising Philadelphia Phillies. The Nats head to Chicago after this series for a 4-game set against the NL-leading Chicago Cubs.

We saw Gonzalez last week in the middle game of a series against the Phillies in DC, a series Philadelphia would unexpectedly sweep. The southpaw pitched well enough to win, allowing just one earned run in 6+ innings, but Jeremy Hellickson of the Phils was even better in a 3-0 decision. Gonzalez did walk a season-high three, but it was his fourth consecutive quality start of 2016 only for the Nats to score a combined four runs in three of the contests. He's faced the Royals just once since coming to Washington in 2012, and it was a disastrous showing with KC hitters scoring seven times and bashing a pair of home runs before chasing Gonzalez in the fourth.

Kansas City just finished a rough road trip that took the Royals through Anaheim and Seattle. They lost the first five games on the journey before avoiding being swept in both series with a 4-1 win Sunday vs. the Mariners.

Volquez came out of the chute on a good roll with the Royals winning his first four assignments while he fashioned a 1.09 ERA. Those good times came to an end last Tuesday in Anaheim where the Angels collected a dozen hits and scored eight runs during the Dominican's five frames. He is facing the Nationals for the seventh time in his career, going 2-2 along the way with a rather lofty 4.68 ERA. Daniel Murphy has had some success against Volquez (6-15, .400), but Bryce Harper is 0-for-6 in their confrontations.

 

Rain Should Stay Away From Entire Series
This is just the fifth time these two franchises have met for a series, and only the third since the Nationals relocated to Washington. They met a little less than three years ago in DC, and last collided in KC three years before that.  Washington has a decided 9-3 advantage in the seldom-played matchup, winning four of the six played at Kauffman Stadium. All three of the games played at Nationals Park in 2013 went 'over' the totals while all three back in 2010 played in Kansas City fell short of the numbers.

We'll be following the entire series with analysis and free MLB picks, keeping our eye on what has been some crazy weather all spring in the Midwest. Right now, things look good for all three games, Monday's forecast calling for a 60º reading on the thermometer at game time with a light NNW breeze (left to right).

I'm in complete agreement with the books that the 'under' does sound right for Game 1.

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My pick: Under 7½ 
Best Line Offered: at Bovada
Season: 18-13 (+6.35)