What a way to begin the fifth week on the MLB betting schedule. The Washington Nationals start their weeklong road trip in Atlanta with four games against the Braves, and ESPN will spotlight the series opener Monday night with a Stephen Strasburg, Julio Teheran clash on the mound.
By: Willie Bee
The Washington Nationals finally stopped their losing skid against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday. Now they'll wait and see if the victory came with a big price as the Nats prepare to wrap up their series in Atlanta on Thursday.
First pitch at Turner Field is set for 7:10 PM (ET), and the Braves are solid home favorites to get right back into the win column behind Kris Medlen. Atlanta backers will lay -160 to -170 against the MLB odds, in the contest that finds Dan Haren on the hill for the Nationals. A 7.5 run total leans to the low side.
Jordan Zimmermann dominated in Washington's 2-0 win that snapped a 9-game string of losses vs. Atlanta. Zimmermann allowed just two hits while whiffing eight in eight innings before turning it over to closer Rafael Soriano. Ian Desmond supplied the game's only offense with a 2-run belt off Paul Maholm in the fourth.
Washington's good vibes from the win were tempered by the fact Bryce Harper had to leave the game in the sixth inning with a bruised left side, an injury he first suffered the night before when he ran into the right-field wall. The young slugger is officially listed as day-to-day, but he expects to be in Thursday's lineup.
Haren, who has generally been strong early in the season, got off to a rough start with the Nats by posting a 6.29 ERA in five April starts. He is coming off his first quality start of the season, however, and has posted a nice 20:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio along the way. Three of those walks came in a start vs. the Cardinals less than two weeks ago.
Medlen was no mystery to Tigers hitters in Detroit last Saturday, lasting an out into the sixth having already surrendered five runs and a pair of homers. He has been much better at home in two starts this season, and stifled the Nats in DC the last time he faced this lineup with seven shutout innings.
A chance of rain is in the Atlanta forecast during the day, but isn't expected to get in the way of the game tonight when it should be cloudy and in the mid-60s with a 12-15 mph east wind (in from right) at first pitch. Mark Wegner completes the umpire rotation for this series, and four of his previous five plate assignments this year went OVER.
I fully expect the Braves to bounce back against Haren, and especially with Harper at less than 100% if he plays at all. But the way my picks have been going, I'm gun-shy to lay $170 on any team (unless they're playing the Astros). The UNDER is the way I'll play this one.
By: Willie Bee
Same song, ninth verse for the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night when they cruised to another win over the Washington Nationals. The series continues Wednesday with ESPN's cameras once again on hand for the broadcast.
Atlanta is also once again small chalk for the third contest in this 4-game series. Morning MLB odds listed the Braves around -115 on the moneyline with lefthander Paul Maholm on the hill. Washington counters with Jordan Zimmermann and the 7 run total is split equally high and low at most baseball betting outlets.
It wasn't officially Tim Hudson Day in Atlanta on Tuesday, though it might as well have been given his performance in Game 2. The Georgia native collected the 200th win of his career with seven innings of 3-hit ball in the 8-1 Braves victory, and also contributed two hits of his own to the attack, including his third career home run.
The victory was Atlanta's ninth in a row vs. Washington, and inflated the Braves' lead to 4.5 games in the NL East over the Nationals who dropped their third straight contest to fall a game under .500. A big key in this series so far has been how the two lineups have performed with ducks on the pond. The Braves are batting .350 with runners in scoring position (7-for-20) while the Nats are just 2-for-14 (.143).
Zimmermann is coming off a 1-hit shutout at home vs. the Reds last Friday to raise his record to 4-1 in five starts while lowering his ERA to two-flat. He missed the Braves when the clubs met in DC a couple of weeks ago, and is appearing at Turner Field for just the second time in his career. His only start on this mound was in 2011 when he didn't figure into the decision of a 6-5 Atlanta triumph.
Maholm opened the campaign with three straight wins and didn't allow a run in any of the outings, including a victory at Nationals Park on April 14 (7.2 IP). The southpaw has since lost twice, both times on the road, and been charged with 11 earned runs in 9.2 innings.
Mike Winters is in line to work the plate for this one, and brings a 4-1 O/U record into the match. Weather is not supposed to be a factor with temps in the upper-60s, cloudy skies and a 10-12 mph ENE breeze (in from right-center).
I don't see any reason to jump off the Braves bandwagon, and will make my play on Atlanta running the string vs. Washington to 10 wins. Don't get away without taking a look at our preview and free play in the series finale between the Reds and Cardinals in St. Louis.
My pick: Braves -115 at Bet365
By: Willie Bee
Several streaks were in the offing for Monday's series opener in Atlanta between the Braves and Washington Nationals. In the end, Atlanta's recent dominance of the Nats won out.
The Braves take aim at a ninth straight win over Washington when the clubs take the field Tuesday night for the continuation of their 4-game series. Tim Hudson is scheduled to toss the first pitch 10 minutes past 7 PM (ET), and the contest opened as a pick 'em at Bookmaker before shifting slightly in Atlanta's favor overnight.
Washington sends Gio Gonzalez to the mound hoping to break this curse vs. the Braves, and the 7 run total will cost OVER bettors a little extra.
The Nationals missed one opportunity after another in Game 1, a 3-2 decision that went in Atlanta's favor. Sixteen batters into the affair, Washington had nine hits but managed to plate only two runs. Braves starter Julio Teheran was on the ropes time and time again, but then settled down and Atlanta's bullpen retired the final 11 Nats to secure the dubya to snap a 4-game skid.
Adding injury to insult, Washington came away from the tilt with two health concerns. Stephen Strasburg, who was also trying to break a 4-game losing streak, managed to get in six innings before manager Davey Johnson pulled the plug on his ace due to tightness in his right forearm. Right fielder Jayson Werth is also questionable for Tuesday's contest after taking a 8th-inning foul off his left foot.
The task of stopping the 8-game losing streak to the Braves now falls on the left shoulder of Gonzalez. The southpaw is coming off a fine performance against the Reds last Thursday, but was knocked around by Atlanta in mid-April (5 IP, 7 ER). He split his four starts vs. the Braves last season, 14 walks in a little less than 22 innings a big factor in his 4.57 ERA.
Atlanta has dropped Hudson's last two starts after beginning the season 3-0 with their veteran righthander on the hill. He was masterful in the sweep at Washington earlier this month (7 IP, 1 ER) after the Braves lost all three of his assignments vs. the Nats a year ago (18.2 IP, 7.71 ERA).
I'll try and snap out of my losing streak by following Atlanta's streak on Tuesday. Braves as small home chalk will be my free pick, and don't forget that I'm also handing out perfectly good fade material for the series in St. Louis between the Cardinals and Reds that you don't want to miss.
My pick: Braves -106 at 5Dimes
Monday Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
Washington opened as -150 chalk at Bookmaker, but that moneyline was whittled down overnight to around -130 at most shops listed on SBR's live MLB betting odds. Baseball bettors have options on the total, 7.5 with some extra tax on the UNDER or a 7 run mark that will cost a little more for the OVER.
Both squads enter the 4-game set off Sunday losses, the Braves' setback in Detroit their fourth straight to end a sweep in Motown and rough 3-7 road trip. Atlanta started that journey, which also included stops in Pittsburgh and Colorado, with baseball's best record (12-2) and a 3.5-game lead in the NL East over the Nats who missed a golden chance to cut even deeper into the margin by losing five of their last eight.
Part of the Braves' fast start included a 3-game broom job in Washington a little more than two weeks ago, so the Nationals will have revenge on their minds when they reach Atlanta to begin a weeklong journey that ends this weekend in Pittsburgh. This has been a very even series since the Nationals moved to DC; the Braves hold a slim 75-73 advantage since 2005 (41-32 at Turner Field).
Check out Mr. Steven Suarez' Morning MLB Lines Report~
Strasburg Out To Snap 4-Game Losing Skid
Monday's series opener sets up a double losing streak of sorts with the Braves hoping to end their 4-game slide while Strasburg is battling a personal 4-game string of defeats. The ace of the Washington staff has four quality starts among his five trips to the mound, but has been a victim of both shoddy fielding and poor run support along the way as the Nationals are averaging less than two runs per game when Strasburg toes the rubber.
He could've picked a better place than Atlanta to snap the skid, that includes a setback to the Braves in DC earlier this month. Strasburg is 1-2 with a 6.82 ERA on this diamond, both losses coming last year when control issues (7 BB, 8.1 IP at Turner Field) proved costly.
He'll be facing a Braves lineup that leads the majors with 36 home runs, a third of those off the bat of Justin Upton (0-for-8 in career vs. Strasburg).
Scoring runs has not been an issue for Atlanta when Teheran is on the mound. The Braves have plated 28 in his four assignments, winning each time despite the rookie out of Colombia owning just one quality start. Nationals hitters touched him up for four runs in DC on April 12, a 6-4 Atlanta triumph.
Braves Look To Continue Dubya String vs. Nats
Atlanta has won the last seven in this series, the sweep in DC a couple of weeks ago tacked on to winning the final four meetings last year. Strasburg was in fact on the mound when the Nationals last beat the Braves, a 4-1 victory in the nation's capital on Aug. 21, 2012.
There is a slight chance of rain in the Atlanta area today, but all signs point to it not interrupting this game. Look for a rather muggy 72º degrees at first pitch with just a slight SW breeze (out to center).
The conflicting streaks -- Braves losing 4 straight but winning last 7 vs. Washington, Strasburg losing 4 straight -- make this an even tougher call than usual. Something obviously has to give, and I'm going to make my play on Strasburg getting back into the win column with my free pick to get this series rolling.
My pick: Nationals -125 at Will HillAlso, see the hap on the Astros vs. the Yankees and what Joe Freda thinks about it.