Wednesday's Free Picks
By: Willie Bee
Is the 2013 season starting to slip away from the Washington Nationals? Maybe, maybe not, but they only have one more shot at avoiding being swept by the Phillies when the two clubs wrap up their three game set Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
The fine folks setting the MLB odds believe the Nationals will escape the City of Brotherly Love with a win. Washington is going off as small chalk, -110 to -120, behind Gio Gonzalez in the series finale.Kyle Kendrick takes the hill for Charlie Manuel's club for the 7 PM (ET) tilt that is carrying a 7.5 run total.
Game 2 started as a pitching duel between Ross Detwiler and Cliff Lee, but it was Lee who maintained his form the longest to help the Phils hand the Nats their third consecutive setback. Both clubs are now two games below .500 and tied for second in the National League East, seven games behind the Atlanta Braves.
Gonzalez has definitely had some rough outings among his 14 assignments, but he has also pitched better than Washington's 7-7 overall record in his rotation turns. The Nats have dropped all three of his June appearances despite a 1.80 ERA over 20 IP from the lefty, and the lineup has offered up just nine runs of support during the past five starts.
He won three of his four starts vs. the Phils a year ago, two of those coming in three outings at CBP where he posted a 3.00 ERA in 18 frames.
Kendrick has one great appearance, one mediocre and one he'd rather forget so far in June. He can be excused a bit for the shelling he took last Friday at Coors Field, and a little for the loss at Milwaukee six days earlier, since those are hitter-friendly parks, and the overall results are there with Philly 9-5 when he takes to the bump (+4.70). The Nationals popped Kendrick as a +170 'dog in DC a few weeks ago, but he was solid over five starts against them in 2012 and the Phils are 5-2 behind him at home this year.
Alfonso Marquez has just about split his plate assignments (6-7 O/U) and will call the pitches for the series finale. Clear skies and temps in the mid-70s are forecast for the start of the game, a very light north breeze blowing in from straightaway center.
Washington just can't seem to get anything going on offense as this 9-game road trip comes to an end, so I'll be backing the Phillies with my MLB picks, expecting them to sweep as small home 'dogs.
My pick: Phillies +106 at Bet365
Tuesday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
If you're a fan of watching teams win in their final at bat, then Monday night's MLB action was perfect for you. Half of the 12-game slate saw that last at-bat scenario play out, including the series opener in Philadelphia between the Phillies and Washington Nationals.
The National League East rivals get right back to business Tuesday when second place in the division is on the line.Cliff Lee takes the mound for the Phils who are priced as $1.50 chalk, or thereabouts, on the MLB odds board. Washington counters with Ross Detwiler with the contest carrying a 7 run total.
Dominic Brown's RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth plated the decisive run in Philly's 5-4 triumph on Monday. The victory pulled the Phillies to within a game of the 2nd-place Nats who lost their second straight game to drop below .500. Most offshore betting outlets closed Game 1 with an 8.5 run total, marking the fourth consecutive OVER between the two clubs this season.
Detwiler missed about a month with an oblique injury and made his first start back from the injury list last Thursday in Denver. The lefty was limited a bit with just five innings and 77 pitches of work, earning a no-decision in the Nats' 5-4 victory. He saw the Phillies twice in 2012, throwing seven shutout innings at home for a win and getting knocked around for a loss in Philadelphia (5 IP, 5 ER, 2 HR).
Lee is having an outstanding season as he prepares to face Washington for the first time in 2013. He has strung together eight consecutive quality starts, the Phillies winning seven, and pulled in 2.7 units for gamblers over his 14 assignments. The southpaw is also riding a streak of 40.2 innings without allowing a long ball.
Three starts vs. the Nationals last season yielded a 2-1 record for both Lee and the Phils while he pitched to a 1.80 ERA with a 19:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
A 60% chance of scattered storms will persist throughout the day and evening in Philadelphia. The decision to play through any rain, wait it out or postpone the contest will be up to crew chief Ted Barrett who also has plate duty this evening. Nine of his 14 assignments this season stayed UNDER the total, including the last six.
It's difficult not to like Lee in this matchup, and I also like Philadelphia's offense to put that extra score up to cover a run line play on Tuesday. Another NL East series I'm following with previews and free picks is in Atlanta where the Braves host the Mets for a doubleheader on Tuesday.
My pick: Phillies -1.5 (+145) at Bet365
Monday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
If anyone is going to wrestle Atlanta's season-long hold on the NL East lead, it figures to be either the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies. Both squads are languishing around the .500 mark as they get together in the City of Brotherly Love beginning Monday, and on a schedule chock-full of big series to start the week, this one definitely deserves the attention of both fans and bettors.
Fifteen games remain on the schedule between the two teams, and appropriately enough, the first of those is basically a pick 'em on today's baseball betting board. Washington's Dan Haren is drawing the light chalk according to SBR's live MLB odds. John Lannan makes his first career start against his former club, and first start since mid-April for the Phillies, with an 8.5 run total (U -115).
Washington has held its own against the Phillies since this matchup first appeared in 1969, and won two of three at home a few weeks back in the first series clash of 2013. The Phils have a rather modest .528 all-time edge over the Expos/Nats, but that has leveled out even more the past few seasons.
Philadelphia has enjoyed a .638 percentage at Citizens Bank Park since '04, but Washington has a 7-5 edge the last 12. The UNDER is 6-3-1 the last 10 on this diamond.
Lannan Faces Former 'Mates; Haren Looks To Halt Skid
Haren can't be blamed for all of Washington's struggles this year, but he is certainly a big part of them. The Nationals have lost his last six starts and stand just 4-9 behind the former Pepperdine star, 1-6 in his seven road assignments. He faced the Phils in DC about three weeks ago, his only no-decision of the season that ended with the Nats suffering a 5-3 setback.
Lannan is coming off the DL following a stint for a quad injury, and he's no doubt wanting to make a good showing against his former teammates. A member of the Nats MLB roster the last six years, Lannan signed a 1-year deal with Philadelphia and enjoyed a decent spring for the Phils, save for one very ugly start.
He made it just three assignments into the regular season before the injury, two quality efforts and one thorough beating, and will be pitching in front of his new home fans for just the second time. He was 3-13 with a 5.53 ERA in 19 starts pitching for the Nats in Philadelphia.
Both Lineups Missing Key Bats
The Phillies and Nationals will each have to play this series without key members of their lineups as Bryce Harper (knee) remains sidelined for Washington and Chase Utley (oblique) is out for Philadelphia. The good news is both are getting closer to returning and each could begin rehab assignments later this week.
As always, bettors will want to keep an eye on the weather reports for this series. There is a chance for afternoon storms the next two days in Philly, but the forecast looks good for Monday's start at Citizens Bank Park with temps in the low-80s at first pitch and an 8-10 mph SW breeze (out to right).
A 1-8 run in late-April/early-May along with dropping the cash in my first four plays of June made for a difficult climb back to .500 with my MLB picks at SBR, but that's where I stand to begin Week 12 (64-64, -$1.80). So like the Nats and Phils, I'm hovering around .500 and underachieving on the season. Hopefully this series will be the beginning of a turnaround for me, and I'll get things rolling with a play on the visitors.
Win or lose, I'll be back tomorrow with another preview and free picks for Game 2 of the set.My pick: Nationals -107 at Bet365