Two rock-solid pitchers take the mound when the Nationals and Cubs do battle in the nation's capital tonight. Who should we be backing with our MLB picks?
The MLB betting odds really vary depending on the site, but for the most part we see a range starting at -115 and going up to -125, with the Nationals favored. If you want to back Washington, you may need to act fast and head on over to 5Dimes, which currently has a line of -115 there for the taking.
Jake Arrieta and the Cubs can be backed at an appealing underdog price of +110 or so. If you're more interested in a total play, the number is at an even seven runs across the board for now. We don't anticipate much change there either.
Washington Nationals (Gonzalez)
The Nationals disappointed in the final two games of their series with Toronto, scoring just three total runs in 7-3 and 8-0 losses. They were shut out by Mark Buehrle last night, with the veteran able to throw a complete game and totally quiet the Washington bats. With the loss, the Nationals dropped to 29-24 overall.
It's a start of a new series tonight, with the Cubs now arriving into town, and Gio Gonzalez will get the call in the opener. The left-hander is 4-2 with a 4.73 ERA and 1.53 WHIP, which are uncharacteristically poor numbers for a guy that's proven himself at the highest level for years now. Gonzalez has a career 3.65 ERA, so you'd have to expect him to turn things around this season, and it should come sooner rather than later.
Gonzalez has pitched a lot better at home (3.33 ERA) than on the road (5.71), and his SIERA is sitting at 3.39, which suggests he's actually been pitching much better than his on-the-surface numbers show. Don't be surprised to see the southpaw piece some quality starts together here in the near future, perhaps starting as soon as tonight.
Chicago Cubs (Arrieta)
After losing two in three in Miami, the Cubs will look to start anew in Washington. The Cubs have been playing much better baseball overall this season, going 27-24, which puts them third in the NL Central.
Chicago would love nothing more than to kick off this four-game set with the Nationals with a victory. The Cubs have a reasonably shot of doing just that, as they'll trot out Jake Arrieta, who's 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. The right-hander owns a great K/9 rate and his SIERA is under 3.00, so he's clearly doing things right so far this season.
Now Arrieta gets a date with a Nationals team that scored a grand total of five runs in its recent three-game series against Toronto. The 29-year-old righty only faced the Nationals once last season but was solid, pitching six innings and allowing just four hits and one earned run. Let's see if he can stifle this stalled Washington offense again tonight.
We're a fan of both of these starting pitchers, so we're going to bank on them showing up and engaging in a pitcher's duel tonight.
The Nationals offense has really been sputtering of late, and a date with Arrieta isn't likely to cure those troubles. Arrieta has been strong and should be able to have another solid outing here in Washington. The biggest obstacle to the UNDER cashing is likely to be Gonzalez; if he can avoid trouble and find a groove early, he should post a quality outing against a Cubs team that loves to swing.
So, with our MLB picks, we've decided to roll with the UNDER in this spot, despite the low number. Look for Gonzalez and Arrieta to do their thing on the mound this evening.
MLB Pick: UNDER 7 at Pinnacle