MLB Pick on Nationals to Force a Deciding Game

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 5:10 PM UTC

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014 5:10 PM UTC

Each day during the MLB Playoffs, LT Profits seeks a side that has a better chance of cashing than its odds would indicate. Here is their MLB Playoff Value Play for Monday.

After extending their season with a big win yesterday, now look for the road team to force a deciding game Tuesday night when southpaw Gio Gonzalez and those Washington Nationals (97-68, 46-36 away) again pay a visit to right-hander Ryan Vogelsong and the San Francisco Giants (91-75, 45-37 home) in Game 4 of their NLDS from AT&T Park in San Francisco, CA at 9:07 ET in a game televised nationally on FOX Sports 1 with the Giants leading the series 2-1.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Washington as a road favorite at current odds of -130.

Biggest Win May Have Been Game 3
In a span of 24 hours, the Nationals have gone from being on the verge of getting swept in this series to now possibly having the upper hand despite still being down 1-2, as they have the more favorable pitching matchups and will be favored the rest of the way after beating Giant ace Madison Bumgarner in Game 3 yesterday with Doug Fister coming up huge in a pitching duel as we expected in the 4-1 victory as +123 underdogs.

The Giants may end up ruing that blown opportunity and Bumgarner may have himself to blame for the favored Giants being the losing MLB picks Monday, not because of his pitching which was mostly impeccable as usual, but because of his throwing error in the seventh inning that allowed two Washington runs to score to break a scoreless tie.

Yes, the Giants still need to win just one of the next two games, but this looks like an ugly pitching matchup for them and then Game 5 if necessary would be back in Washington.

Old Gio Returned Down the Stretch
Gonzalez had elbow troubles earlier in the year that landed him on the Disabled List not once but twice, and the elbow was almost no doubt a contributing factor in his slow start that left him with a 4.85 ERA and a lower strikeout rate than we are accustomed to him having through mid-June. However, Gio got better as the year went on following his second DL stint and we again started to see the vintage Gonzalez down the stretch.

Gio allowed three earned runs or less in each of his last nine starts with official Quality Starts in the last seven outings, and he had a 2.77 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over those last nine appearances with 56 strikeouts vs. 15 walks in 55.1 innings. Furthermore his strikeout-to-walk ratio went off the charts over his last four starts of the year over which he had 27 punch-outs vs. just three free passes in 26.2 innings!

The southpaw did not face the Giants this season but he allowed only one run and eight hits in 11.1 innings vs. San Francisco last year and is now catching a Giant lineup batting a mere .228 vs. left-handed pitchers over the last 10 games.

Sad Vogelsong
Vogelsong had a couple of surprising seasons for the Giants, but he has returned to his mediocre form the last two years that had categorized his entire career before coming to San Francisco in 2011. Vogelsong finished just 8-13 with a 4.00 ERA this season and the most disconcerting aspect about his year was that he was consistently mediocre while not showing any improvement for any prolonged stretches.

In fact, his numbers were actually a bit worse down the stretch as he had a 5.53 ERA and 1.52 WHIP over his last five starts of the year with a weak ratio of 23 strikeouts vs. 14 walks in 27.2 innings over those outings. Vogelsong did not fare well at all in his two starts vs. Washington this year either, both of them losses, as he was shelled for a total of nine earned runs on 13 hits plus six walks in only 11.1 innings of work.

Stepping Up on the Road
Finally, the Nationals have not minded travelling one bit this season, as they went 45-36 on the road during the regular season and then won their first post-season road game in their biggest game of the year so far yesterday. Furthermore, Washington had not been intimidated by the better teams in the league when travelling as the win on Monday makes the Nationals 14-3 in their last 17 road games vs. teams with winning home records!

Look for that pattern to continue in their biggest game of all with the hot Gonzalez on the hill as Washington forces a Game 5 with another road win in Game 4 of its NLDS in San Francisco on Tuesday.

MLB Pick: Nationals -130

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