The Washington Nationals begin a 10-game western swing with three in LA against the Dodgers, and SBR will preview the entire series with free MLB picks.
MLB futures odds back in March suggested this week's series between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers would be an NLCS preview. That may still be the case, but for now it's simply a matchup between second-best in the NL East and dead-last in the NL West.
None of that really matters in the grand scheme of things for the next three days when there will be profit opportunities for baseball bettors. Just don't be surprised if the series doesn't take on a playoff atmosphere and things get a bit tense as both clubs try to make up for lost ground during the first six weeks of the schedule. That might be especially true for the Dodgers who are beginning to feel pressure to produce with the National League's top payroll.
Wednesday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
Carlos Quentin won't be anywhere near Los Angeles tonight when Zack Greinke returns to the mound to pitch the series finale against the Washington Nationals. It remains to be seen if Greinke will have to face young stud Bryce Harper in the Nats lineup.
Los Angeles and Washington are set for the rubber match of their 3-game set with Ross Detwiler taking his turn for the Nationals. Los Angeles' decision to bring Grienke off the DL kept the game off the overnight MLB odds list, but the numbers were finally released Wednesday morning with the Dodgers laying -140 or higher and a 6.5 or 7 run total, depending where you shop.
A good ol' fashioned pitching duel erupted at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday as Dan Haren and Clayton Kershaw limited the two lineups to just nine hits between them. Kershaw came away the victor in LA's 2-0 triumph, working into the ninth before being relieved after a career-high 132 pitches. That number might be something for baseball bettors to tuck away and consider when Kershaw next takes the mound.
Grienke is making his first start since the April 11 brawl in San Diego where Padres OF Quentin charged the mound and broke the righthander's left collarbone. He made just one rehab start last Friday, and got roughed up a bit by a Single-A lineup (4.1 IP, 8 R).
Reports are Greinke, who inked a $147 million contract with Los Angeles in the winter, will be held around the 90-pitch mark, so six innings is all we should expect to see.
Detwiler owns five quality starts among his seven assignments, along with a nice 2.53 ERA. But the Nationals are just 3-4 in the lefty's outings, 2-1 in Detwiler's three contests away from home. He is 1-2 with a 3.09 ERA in three career starts vs. the Dodgers, and lost his only assignment in Los Angeles (April 2012, 6 IP, 3 ER).
Another clear, calm night is in store for the contest, though it will be cooler than the last couple of nights with a first-pitch temp in the low-60s. Alfonso Marquez is scheduled to call the balls and strikes; he has leaned to the UNDER the past two seasons, and brings a similar 3-4 O/U mark for this year into the match.
Though he's on a shorter leash tonight, Greinke should be champing at the bit to pitch in front of his new fans for just the second time. Los Angeles as mid-level chalk will be my play. Game 2 of the series in New York between the Yankees and Mariners is also part of today's previews & picks lineup at SBR.
My pick: Dodgers -140
Tuesday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
The Washington Nationals got their long road trip started on a winning note Monday night at the Los Angeles Dodgers, but they could be without Bryce Harper for a few games as a result.
Washington will try and make it two in a row Tuesday when the Nats send Dan Haren to the Chavez Ravine bump against LA ace Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers are heavy -190 favorites for the contest with a short 6.5 run total on the MLB odds board.
The Nationals built a 6-0 lead against the Dodgers in Game 1 before coasting to a 6-2 triumph. Jordan Zimmermann pitched into the eighth to earn his MLB-leading seventh victory while Ryan Zimmerman drove in half of Washington's runs.
Harper reached base in each of his three plate appearances and scored twice, but he spent the last half of the contest on the trainer's table getting his chin stitched up following his run-in with the right field wall in the bottom of the fifth. He is not expected to be in the lineup tonight, and that leaves the Nats short in the outfield where they've been playing without Jayson Werth since early May due to a hamstring issue.
No matter what uniform he's been in, Haren has pitched well against the Dodgers only for his clubs to come up short. Sixteen career starts vs. LA have produced a 7-9 mark for Haren's teams despite a nice 3.48 ERA in those affairs. He has a 3.64 ERA in seven assignments at Dodger Stadium -- two ugly outings in 2008 a huge part of that number -- and Haren's previous teams are 2-5 in those contests.
Kershaw could be 7-1 at this juncture with a little help from his offense, and his last two starts have gone into the loss column for LA despite the lefty allowing just two earned runs over 14 combined innings. His 1.62 ERA ranks fourth in the NL, and that mark is even better at home where he has a 0.99 ERA in five outings. He won his only start vs. Washington a year ago on this field, and is 3-2 lifetime with a 4.08 ERA against the Nats.
Ted Barrett gets the call behind the plate for Tuesday's tilt, the first time this season he has called balls and strikes for either the Dodgers or Nationals. Home favorites are 5-1 when he works the dish, and the OVER has a 5-3 edge.
It's going to be a bit cooler than it was last night in LA, but clear skies and not enough wind to worry about are in the forecast.
Last night was a rare win for the Nationals on this field; things should return to normal on Tuesday and I will back the UNDER with my MLB picks, the same direction I'm picking tonight's series opener in New York between the Yankees and Mariners.
My pick: Nationals-Dodgers Under 6.5 (-110)
Monday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
Monday's series opener is an interesting matchup of righthanders with Jordan Zimmermann taking the hill for the Nats opposite LA's Josh Beckett. The 10 o'clock (ET) start at Chavez Ravine has the visitors carrying the chalk on the MLB odds board with Washington at -125. Both 6.5 and 7 run totals are available.
Washington sits just a game out of the National League East lead, but missed a great chance to catch the Braves or even pass them this past weekend when the Nationals saw a 5-game win streak end with a pair of losses to the lowly Chicago Cubs. The Dodgers, meanwhile, enter Week 7 having won two in a row following an 8-game skid, the last four of those losses at the beginning of this 9-game homestand.
Series Begins 10-Game Roadie For Nats
Monday's contest begins the first of two 10-game road trips on Washington's 2013 schedule, with stops in San Diego and San Francisco once this set in Los Angeles is complete. The Nationals have been treading water away from home so far (8-8), and the good news is they should have the ace of their staff on the hill three times during this trek.
Zimmermann could easily be 7-0 with a little help from his offense, and is among the NL Leaders in ERA (3rd, 1.59), WHIP (2nd, 0.82) and opponents' OPS (2nd, .476). He beat the Dodgers in his only assignment against them last year, but struggled in his only career start at Dodger Stadium during his '09 rookie campaign.
While Zimmermann could be a perfect 7-0 at this stage, Beckett is fortunate not to be 0-7. The Dodgers are 1-6 in his seven starts and he has allowed less than three earned runs in only one of them. Beckett never faced the Nationals while with the BoSox, but did see them after being traded to LA last season, a no-decision in a 7-6 Dodgers win at Washington.
Dodgers Look To Continue Recent Series Dominance In LA
Dodger Stadium has been a tough destination for the Nationals since long before the franchise relocated from Montreal to Washington DC. The Dodgers have won the last five on this diamond, 18 of 23 since 2005, and are 145-76 (.656) since the Nats' days as the Expos. That overall record includes when the squads met in the 1981 NLCS.
Three of the last four played on this field stayed UNDER the mark, and the only OVER was the Dodgers' 4-3 win in 10 innings last April when Bryce Harper made his MLB debut with Stephen Strasburg on the mound for the Nationals.
Weather shouldn't be an issue for the series, though each contest will start with progressively cooler temps. A warm day is in store for Tinseltown on Monday when the thermometer should still be in the upper-70s at first pitch with a gentle SW breeze (out to RF).
Warmer temps in LA today could help the hitters, which has me leaning OVER 7, and I'll make a play on the Dodgers to continue their winning ways at home vs. the Nationals. Check back on Tuesday as I continue to follow this series, as well as provide previews and MLB picks for the Mariners and Yankees set in New York.My pick: Dodgers +116 at Bet365