The betting odds on Cincinnati are falling as they open a series in Washington. That's a bit suspicious given the mental state of both teams. Consider recent events for both clubs before placing your MLB picks.
The Reds are coming off a 2-4 homestand and were just whipped by last place Milwaukee, outscored 25-5 and baseball handicappers are well aware their offense is in the tank. The Nationals just swept San Francisco at home and are beginning to see the light at the other end of the tunnel , now having the second-best record in the National League and knowing three of their everyday starting players should be ready to return by August 1, which might end up perfect timing for a team that was favored according to MLB odds to be in the World Series.
Here is a look at Game 1 of the series.
Other than All-Star third-baseman Todd Frazier (.285,BA, 25 HR's), the news on Cincinnati is not good. Being swept by the Brewers at Great American Ballpark has to be a complete embarrassment for manager Bryan Price and his squad. Sure Marlon Byrd is batting .356 over a 10-game hitting streak but that has only raised his average to .244. Joey Votto (.273) is in a prolonged slump and Jay Bruce (.238) and Billy Hamilton (.224) are not adding much.
Cincy only averages 4.0 runs per game and they have tallied seven in their past four games. Add in the fall to 3.5 RPG on the road and it is easy to comprehend why they are 14-26 on the road.
News on the Nationals
Washington is certainly a favored choice for MLB picks having won 12 of 15 thanks to great pitching, Bryce Harper and other contributions from Yunel Escobar (.314 BA and .364 OBP) and Denard Span (.305 BA and .369 OBP).
Harper has been the best player in baseball all season, batting .347, with 25 homers, 60 rbi's and his newfound patience at the dish has yielded 60 walks. Stephen Strasburg back on the DL is not a plus, but if Doug Fister, tonight's starter, can return to prior form, that would give Washington a strong chance to win four of every five contests with their other pitchers and the fifth slot in the rotation is at least a 50-50 game. If Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman can return and at least match career norms, watch out for the Nats.
DeSclafani vs. Fister
Anthony DeSclafani (5-6, 3.63 ERA) aims to regroup from one of his worst outings of the season, when gave up a season high-tying six runs over 6 2/3 innings in 8-5 home loss to Minnesota. The right-hander has a 90-94 MPH fastball and a good slider and has pitched better on the road with a 3-2 mark (Reds are 4-4) with a 2.45 ERA in eight starts. DeSclafani has not shown the same command in the big leagues like in the minors in walking more than three batters per nine innings.
Doug Fister (3-4, 4.34) has been on a rollercoaster ride in three starts since missing more than a month because of a flexor strain in his right elbow. He's been bad, brilliant and bad again, like in his last outing permitting four runs in six innings (seven hits, 2 HR's) and taking the loss in Atlanta. Fister is a sinker-ball pitcher who needs a rhythm to his game and for the most part has not found it this season. He was 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in a pair of meetings with the Reds in 2014.
Betting Odds and Outcome
Those making sports picks are not showing much faith in Fister and Washington, dumping them from -155 to -135 at most sportsbooks checked. (Heritage.eu is at -130 at last peek)
This role has not suited Cincinnati very well with a 8-26 record as a road underdog of +125 to +150 the last two seasons and they are a miserable 31-61 away from home against winning teams since 2013. Washington is the play having been swept in Ohio by the Reds back in May.
Free MLB Pick - Washington -135