MLB Picks: Gonzalez & Nationals vs. Mets

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 5:56 PM GMT

Wednesday, Apr. 2, 2014 5:56 PM GMT

It was a pretty painful Opening Day for both Washington and New York at Citi Field on Monday and both sides will be without a key player for Wednesday's Game 2 of the series. The Nationals opened as -142 favorites on MLB odds with a total of 7 runs for sports bettors.

Next Nats Catcher Up
Washington won the opener 9-7 in 10 innings thanks largely to Anthony Rendon's three-run homer in the top of that frame.  He won the second base job in spring and finished with two hits and a career-high four RBIs. Starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg whiffed 10 Mets in six innings. That was the good news.

That bad was that catcher Wilson Ramos reportedly broke his hand. The team isn't confirming that yet but the Washington Post is, and Ramos is seeing a specialist Tuesday. He left the game in the middle of the seventh inning; the injury apparently happened in the top of the inning when he was batting against Dillon Gee. Ramos was going to be Washington's cleanup hitter this season, at least that was the plan. He's a very good offensive player for his position when healthy. He hit .272 with 16 homers and 59 RBIs in just 78 games last year because of hamstring problems. He missed most of 2012 with a knee injury. The Nats now look wise for acquiring catcher Jose Lobaton from Tampa Bay during the spring, although he's not close to Ramos offensively.

Meanwhile, Washington averted total disaster when Bryce Harper was hit in the head by the leg of Mets second baseman Eric Young Jr. as Harper was sliding in to break up a double-play attempt. Harper was down for a few minutes but stayed in the game and passed all concussion tests. He finished 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Let our MLB Picks of the Day help you locate the best value on offer.

Mets Already On New Closer
New York had its own injury to deal with on Monday. That would be to closer Bobby Parnell. He blew the save by allowing a run in the top of the ninth inning, and his velocity was noticeably down from previous seasons. It turns out he has a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. The team hasn't said that will require season-ending surgery yet, but it sure seems likely. Parnell had a 2.16 ERA and 22 saves in 49 games last season, missing the final two months after neck surgery.

Thus the new closer, at least for now, is Jose Valverde. "Papa Grande" threw 1 1/3 perfect innings Monday and struck out three. Valverde, 36, had 49 saves in 2011 with Detroit and 35 the next season but became increasingly less reliable as the '12 season went on. He threw only 19.1 big-league innings in 2013 and had a 5.59 ERA.

Compare the most recent MLB Future Odds

Probable Pitchers
Washington starts lefty Gio Gonzalez. He was 11-8 with a 3.36 ERA in 2013 after being a Cy Young candidate in 2012 with 21 wins and a 2.89 ERA. Gonzalez was 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts against the Mets last year, with all three coming at Citi Field. New York's Ike Davis is 4-for-12 with a homer in his career off Gonzalez, but he's likely to start on the bench because Gonzalez is a lefty; Josh Satin would start at first. David Wright is 4-for-13 with a dinger. Curtis Granderson has a homer but only two total hits in 16 at-bats. One guy Gonzalez likely won't have to worry about is Daniel Murphy. He's the Mets' starting second baseman but didn't play Monday because his wife was giving birth. He's not expected to on Wednesday, either.

New York counters with right-hander Bartolo Colon, who was a Cy Young candidate last year with Oakland. Colon, at age 40, was a fairly astounding 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA. It was his best year since winning the 2005 Cy Young with the Angels. It was also the 12th-best ERA all-time among pitchers age 40 or older.  Colon didn't face the Nationals in 2013. Only a few Washington players have seen him in the majors. Nate McLouth is 2-for-3 off Colon so he could get a spot start as he's the team's fourth outfielder. Denard Span is 0-for-3 with two walks.

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MLB free picks: Washington -142 at sportsbooks, +110 on the runline and the under seven runs on MLB odds. Washington is 6-0 in Gonzalez's past six starts against the Mets. New York is 1-6 in its past seven against southpaws. The under is 7-1 in New York's past eight games.
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