MLB Picks: Nationals vs. Orioles Series Coverage

Willie Bee

Monday, July 7, 2014 12:37 PM UTC

Monday, Jul. 7, 2014 12:37 PM UTC

The long ball has been a big part of the MLB odds series between the Orioles and Nationals as the two division leaders finish up their interleague series on Thursday.


10th July
Orioles vs. Nationals Thursday

By: Willie Bee


Home runs have been part of the attack all season for the Baltimore Orioles, and especially recently.  On Wednesday night, the Washington Nationals gave them a little taste of their own medicine with a 6-2 victory in Baltimore.

Wilson Ramos, Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth provided the bleacher souvenirs to drive the Nationals on offense, most of the damage coming against O's starter Bud Norris who was making his first start off a short DL stay.  The triumph lifted the Nats to a 1-game lead in the NL East over the Braves who were busy losing their third straight to the Mets

A couple of southpaws go at it in the series finale Thursday night (7:05 PM ET), Gio Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen, and SBR's live baseball odds show this one right at a pick after overnight wagering.  The total is 8.5 runs and favors the 'under.'

Gonzalez Riding 22 IP Scoreless Streak
Washington has won all four of Gonzalez's starts since he came off the DL in mid-June following a month-long stint due to inflammation in his left shoulder.  Gonzalez has been extremely tough in his last three assignments, a combined 21 innings without allowing a run and surrendering just nine hits along the way. 

He has seen the Orioles just once since being traded to the Nats a couple of years ago, Gonzalez taking the loss last year in DC after giving up four runs in 5.2 innings.  Lifetime at Camden Yards, he's 1-1 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts (19.1 IP).

Chen beat the Rangers last Thursday to complete Baltimore's broom job against Texas, and also continue a lose one, win one rut for the lefty that started at the end of May.  This will be his fourth consecutive home start, the Orioles 6-4 in his 10 appearances at Camden Yards where Chen has a 3.84 ERA.  He faced the Nationals twice during his 2012 rookie campaign, both ending in defeat with Chen allowing nine runs (8 earned) in 9.1 frames.

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Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
The umpire crew shuffled their own rotation when the series shifted to Charm City on Wednesday, and Dan Iassogna had the plate for Game 3 following Tuesday's washout in DC.  That means CB Bucknor (8-8-1 O/U/P) should call balls and strikes this evening, and small home favorites up to -120 are 0-3 when he is behind the dish. 

Bucknor and his buddies might have to deal with some tough decisions about the weather with a 50% chance of thunderstorms in the forecast.  The umpire crew and MLB certainly don't want a second rainout in the series, so any delay might be stretched into the late-evening hours in order to get this one in. 

The weather has me concerned, but getting Gonzalez in great form at even-money is the way I'm going with today's free MLB pick

My pick: Nationals -105

Season: 84-82 (+2.10)


9th July
Orioles vs. Nationals Wednesday

By: Willie Bee


As hot as the Baltimore Orioles hitters have been, maybe rain is the only way to slow them down. Thunderstorms that have been pounding parts of the Northeast this week did just that Tuesday, and the Washington Nationals not only avoided facing the Baltimore bats, but managed to sneak into first place of the NL East without even playing a game.

Tuesday's rainout will be made up in early August, but the interleague series between the Nats and O's continues today as the clubs trek up I-95 about 40 miles to Camden Yards for the final two games of the set. Both managers will stick with their original starting pitchers from yesterday, Doug Fister and Bud Norris, and baseball bettors are awaiting the adjusted MLB odds for the 7:05 PM (ET) battle.

Fister and Washington were solid favorites on Tuesday, the moneyline up in the -150 to -160 span. We expect that to swing around to Baltimore drawing the chalk, though not quite that high, and for the 8 run total to push up at least half a run if not all the way to 9.

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Rainout Leads To Rotations Being Shuffled
In addition to both Fister and Norris getting an extra day of rest, the Game 2 rainout also means the Nationals will be switching up their rotation for the rest of the week as teams head towards the All-Star Break. Tanner Roark was originally slated to pitch tonight's game in Baltimore, but Washington manager Matt Williams is going to hold him out until Sunday while keeping the rest of his rotation on its regular schedule.

Fister had been a perfect 5-0 at Nationals Park this year, allowing no more than three runs in any home assignment. The Nats are 3-3 in his six road starts where his ERA jumps up about a run and a quarter compared to his 2.31 mark at home.  Norris' home/road ERA split is even more pronounced, the beefy righty pitching to a 2.21 ERA in Baltimore, that number jumping to nearly 5.00 on the road.

Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
We're assuming the umpire crew will follow these clubs to Washington, since that's what MLB has doing with all of these home-&-home interleague series so far. If that's the case, we will have either Dan Iassogna, Tuesday's scheduled plate umpire, or CB Bucknor draw Wednesday's dish assignment like the regular rotation had. Bucknor's totals in 2014 have split down the middle, 8-8-1 O/U/P, though three of his last four have gone 'over' the number.

The rain that cost us Tuesday's tilt hasn't completely left the area, though Wednesday's forecast in Baltimore does look far more promising. The chance for showers decreases as the afternoon wears on, dropping to just 20% at first pitch with the thermometer in the mid-80s and only a hint of a SSW breeze (out to right-center).

Like all bettors, I'll wait on the numbers before making a final decision for today's free MLB pick. For now, I'm thinking offense and the 'over' might be the best way to go.

MLB Pick: Late lines, lean Over 8.5

Season: 84-81 (+3.30)


8th July
Orioles vs. Nationals Tuesday

By: Willie Bee


You can hold this powerful Baltimore Orioles lineup off for only so long, but sooner or later their bats will get to you as they did in Monday night's 8-2 victory at the Washington Nationals.

Chris Davis ignited a 6-run 11th inning with a big fly, helping the Orioles increase their lead in the AL East to three games over Toronto. The victory was Baltimore's sixth in seven games this month, and the four home runs marked the eighth time in the last 11 games the O's belted at least two long balls.

Baltimore hopes to keep the good times going Tuesday when the MLB odds suggest the Nationals will even up the set. Doug Fister delivers the first pitch for Washington at 7:05 PM (ET), the Nats chalked in the -150 to -160 range. Bud Norris is on tap for the Orioles and the 8 run total favors the 'over.'

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Fister Seeking 1st Win Over Nats
Norris is making this start off the disabled list where he's been the past couple of weeks due to a groin injury. He'll enter with a 4-game win streak in his hip pocket, the most recent a 6-1 decision against the Yankees in New York where Norris held the pinstripes to three hits and one run in five innings.

This will be his first start against the Nats since joining the O's last July, but he did face them three times as a member of the Astros rotation. Norris and Houston won two of those games while he recorded a 3.66 ERA (19.2 IP).

After a late start to the 2014 campaign due to a strained lat muscle, Fister has been routinely putting money in bettors' pockets. He dropped his season debut in Oakland, but the Nats have subsequently won eight of his 10 assignments since then, the latest a 4-3 decision last week vs. the Rockies as -180 chalk. This will be Fister's third appearance vs. the Nationals, both of the previous two taking place in Washington and both going into the loss columns for his teams (Seattle, Detroit).

Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Anyone who has been reading along for any length of time knows of my dislike for Dan Iassogna, a confrontational umpire who suffers from a Napoleonic complex. He should have the dish in Game 2, six of his last eight plate assignments failing to reach the total and home chalk running 8-2.

There is a 30%-40% chance of a thunderstorm passing through DC this evening, temps expected to remain in the 80s with more SW winds (out to right, right-center) of 10-15 mph in the mix. Three of the five home runs hit last night under the same conditions went to right-center.

Baltimore bats are just too hot for me to ignore, and that's why I'm going with the underdogs for my free MLB pick in Game 2.

MLB Pick: Orioles +135

Season: 84-80 (+4.70)


7th July
Orioles vs. Nationals Monday

By: Willie Bee


As I've noted several times in the past, it's never too early to start thinking about potential playoff matchups, and this week's home-&-home interleague series between the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles certainly fits that bill.

The clubs begin matters in the nation's capital with a 7:05 PM (ET) contest that pits a pair of young righthanders to lead the set off. Chris Tillman takes his turn in Buck Showalter's rotation while Stephen Strasburg is up next for Matt Williams and the Nats, and it's Washington serving as the decided favorite with a moneyline ranging from the upper-160s to the mid-180s.

SBR's live baseball odds show a unanimous 7.5 run total for the tilt, the 'under' drawing a little extra juice.

'Over' On 4-Game Run In Series At Nationals Park
A lineup built around power has helped Baltimore (48-40, +10.6 units, 41-45-2 O/U/P) into the AL East driver's seat. The Orioles reach Washington DC second in the majors with 107 homers and averaging 4.38 runs per game after taking two of three in Boston over the weekend, the series victory good enough to give them a 2-game cushion in the division over the slumping Toronto Blue Jays.

Washington (48-39, +1.1 units, 42-37-8 O/U/P), meanwhile, is built around pitching, the staff hurling two shutouts during the current 7-1 stretch that has lowered the team ERA to an MLB-best 3.03. The Nationals' mound corps is also tied with the Cardinals for surrendering the fewest home runs (53), setting up a great confrontation in this series.

Baltimore owns a 32-29 record in the rivalry, a mark that includes five series played when the Nats were still known as the Montreal Expos.  Since Montreal's relocation to the nation's capital, the Orioles are 26-21, 8-9 at Nationals Park.

The Orioles have won each of the past two season series, and are 8-3 in the last 11 clashes. Last year's two contests in Washington were split, with both games going 'over' the totals to give high-side bettors the cash in the last four played in DC.

Tillman Set For DC Debut
Thanks to the bullpen and lineup, the Orioles won their third straight Tillman start last week in the third of a 4-game sweep vs. the Rangers. Tillman was coming off consecutive solid performances, but was wild and hittable against Texas, allowing four runs (3 earned) and four walks before hitting the showers in the sixth.

The Nats found Tillman very hittable last year in Baltimore, connecting on four blasts and scoring six times before he could finish the fifth. Still, despite a 6.51 ERA in two starts vs. Washington, the O's have won 'em both as Tillman prepares to take the mound at Nationals Park for the first time.

Strasburg was on his game last Tuesday against the Rockies, holding the top-scoring lineup in the NL to just one run before leaving in the eighth. The 7-1 Nationals triumph halted a 3-game losing streak with Strasburg on the hill, leaving them 10-8 behind their young hurler and baseball bettors down nearly two units riding his arm. Strasburg is facing the O's for just the second time in his career, beating them 9-3 in May 2012 at Nationals Park with a 5-IP, 1-ER linescore.

Warm and muggy is the forecast for Monday's series opener, and the rest of the series as well. Rain could show up later this week, but Game 1 is expected to stay dry with a first-pitch thermometer reading of 91º plus a 10-12 mph SW wind (out to right).

Showalter was forced to go deep into his bullpen each of the last two days in Boston, and that could force him to leave Tillman on the hill longer than he would like tonight.  I'm going to get behind Washington with my free MLB pick on Monday, and erase the chalk with a run-line wager.

My Free MLB Pick: Nationals -1.5 (+120)

Season: 84-78 (+7.05)

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