MLB Picks: Nationals vs. Reds Series Coverage

Darin Zank

Monday, May 19, 2014 12:05 PM GMT

A pair of banged-up teams meet as the Cincinnati Reds visit the Washington Nationals for a three-game series in DC, starting Monday night (7 pm ET). We'll follow this series through to the end, updating the situation and offering free MLB picks, for what they're worth, on each contest.

 

19th May
Reds vs. Nationals Game 1

By: Ron Patrick

 

The Betting Lines
Many books we checked opened Monday's series opener with Washington and Stephen Strasburg favored by around -155 over Cincy and Mike Leake, with a total of 6.5 runs. Many of those books then bumped the Nats to upwards of -170. So, Monday's game had already seen a significant line move.

Also, The Greek was listing Washington at -150 to win this series, with the Reds getting +130.
 

Series Set-Up
Washington just took two of three games from the Mets over the weekend, winning Sunday 6-3. So the Nats have won their last two series. At 23-20 Washington sits in second place in the NL East, just a half-game back of first-place Atlanta. 

Cincinnati just dropped two of three games at Philly over the weekend, losing Sunday's rubber match 8-3. So the Reds have lost two series in a row. At 19-23 Cincy occupies third place in the NL Central, seven games behind first-place Milwaukee.

This is the first meeting this season between these two teams. Last year, Washington won the season series with Cincinnati four games to three, with five of those games playing 'over' the totals.
 

Monday's Pitching Match-Up
Strasburg (3-3, 3.48), by our tough standards, is six-for-nine on quality starts this season, and five for his last five. Last time out he gave up three runs in seven innings against Arizona, and over his last five outings he's held opponents to seven ER in 33 1/3 innings. For the season Strasburg has allowed 57 hits in 54 1/3 innings, walked 15 and whiffed 70. 

Washington is 6-3 in Strasburg's starts this year, with the totals going 6-3. In his one start last year against Cincinnati, however, Strasburg got nicked for six runs in less than six innings of a 6-3 Nats loss. He'll face a somewhat different lineup Monday night, one that doesn’t include Shin-Soo Choo or Jay Bruce, and probably not Joey Votto.

Leake (2-3, 3.09) has been pitching in some tough luck as of late. He’s four-for-eight on quality starts, and three for his last three. But the Reds have lost his last five starts. Last time out Leake gave up just one run and two hits against San Diego, but Cincy lost 2-1. Over his last three starts he's allowed just five runs in 23 innings, but the Reds lost those other two games by scores of 2-0 and 4-3. On the season Leake has allowed 47 hits in 58 1/3 innings, walked 11 and struck out 34. Cincinnati is just 2-6 in Leake's starts, with the totals skewing toward the 'undersby a 5-2 margin.

Leake started twice last year against the Nats, giving up seven ER and 12 hits in nine innings; the Reds lost both those games, and both played 'over.'

As for the bullpens in this series Washington ranks No. 1 in ERA at 2.07, and is 10-for-14 on save opportunities, while Cincinnati ranks 29th in ERA at 5.40 and is eight-for-14 on save opps. But the Reds' pen got a boost recently with the return of closer Aroldis Chapman, who's recorded a save in two of his first three appearances of this season.
 

At the Bat
The Reds rank 28th in scoring at 3.6 runs per game, 21st in team OBP at .310. In trying to play some small ball Cincy ranks third with 35 stolen bases.

Washington ranks 17th in scoring at 4.0 RPG, and 19th in OBP at .313.
 

Reds-Nats Injury Update
Cincy was already playing without Jay Bruce, who after having knee surgery is on the DL, and now 1B Votto has missed recent action with a strained quad. He's listed as questionable for Monday.

Over in the other dugout, Washington is playing without 3B Ryan Zimmerman, who's on the DL because of a broken thumb; 1B Adam LaRoche, who's on the DL with a strained quad; and OF Bryce Harper, who's on the DL with a bad thumb of his own.
 

Reds-Nats Betting Trends
Review these betting trends before deciding who to name as your MLB pick tonight:

Cincy has lost seven of its last eight road games.  

The Reds have leaned toward the 'unders' this season by a 23-17 margin.

Washington has leaned toward the 'overs' this year by a 22-16 split.

The totals are 9-10 in games played at Nationals Park this season.
 

Free MLB Pick for Monday: This game matches two pitchers who have been tough as of late against a couple of lineups missing some key cogs. So while we're not sure who's going to win this game, we like the 'under'  6.5 runs (-105) offered at Pinnacle for our free pick on Monday's contest.

[gameodds]3/264291/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]