Phillies vs. Nationals Game 3
By: Willie Bee
There was every indication of a pitchers duel Wednesday night in Washington where the Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies stood scoreless over the first 3½ innings. The clubs had combined for just four hits while pitchers AJ Burnett and Stephen Strasburg coaxed 21 outs, and bettors holding 'under' 8 tickets were likely already penciling in a profit.
But as they so often do in baseball, things changed quickly and the Nats would eventually match the MLB odds total on their own in an 8-4 triumph to get in position for a 3-game sweep of the Phils this afternoon (4:05 PM ET). A pair of righthanders match up once again, Kyle Kendrick for the visitors and Doug Fister for the home 9, and Washington is a pronounced favorite around -185 on the moneyline with a 7.5 run total that has dropped from the initial 8 run offering.
Fister In Groove
After Beginning '14 On DL
Kendrick has yet to find any consistency in his first 11 starts, Philadelphia losing seven of them, three of the losses coming in four road assignments. He had three quality efforts in May, along with three more outings in which he allowed at least four runs each time. Kendrick's resume against the Nationals includes 22 starts and two relief appearances, totaling 120+ innings with a 4.84 ERA.
It took a start for Fister to knock off some rust following a DL stint to begin the season due to a strained back muscle, but he has since settled into a very nice groove following a loss at Oakland in his season debut on May 9. Washington has won Fister's subsequent four starts, the lanky righthander allowing two runs or less each assignment.
He faced the Phillies once before, that start coming last season while Fister was in Detroit's rotation, and surrendered an unearned run with six strikeouts in eight frames.
Umpire Notes, Mother
Nature & A Free Pick
Ron Kulpa figures to be under the mask for the series finale, his 495th regular season plate assignment. Kulpa's 2014 totals have split 6-6 O/U after working an 'over' in last Friday's contest between the Giants and Cardinals. Home chalk of -140 or better is 0-3 in when Kulpa is behind the dish this season.
Intermittent rain showers are expected in the DC area this morning, but should be done with by first pitch. A few clouds will still linger for the start of the game when a muggy 80º and 10-15 mph NW winds are also in the forecast (left to right).
Washington crept up to just 1.5-games behind the Atlanta Braves at the top of the NL East with Wednesday's triumph, the Marlins stuck between those two squads. The top of the batting order is a big reason for the Nationals' recent 4-1 spurt as Denard Span and Anthony Rendon have each gone on tears to fuel the lineup. That duo is 21-for-46 (.466) over the 5-game span, Span scoring seven times and Rendon popping 3 HR while driving in six.
Kendrick has had success against each, but I'm disregarding that with another run-line play on Washington for my free pick.
My Pick: Nationals -1.5 (+115)
Season: 57-55 (+1.20)
Phillies vs. Nationals Game 2
By: Willie Bee
Catching Z's might be the best way to sum up how the Philadelphia Phillies feel after Tuesday's opener in Washington against the Nationals.
Washington's Jordan Zimmermann blanked the Phils for eight innings and Ryan Zimmerman came off the DL to play left field for the Nats, stroking a pair of doubles with an RBI in the 7-0 victory. The win helped Washington back to .500 on the season, just 2.5 behind Atlanta in the NL East race, while the loss was Philadelphia's fourth straight, and the eighth time the Phillies have been shut out.
Philadelphia will turn to veteran AJ Burnett on Wednesday with hopes of stopping the skid. He'll be opposed by Stephen Strasburg in the 7:05 PM (ET), Washington running about -185 on the baseball betting board along with a 6.5 run total that is showing every sign of closing on 7.
Both Pitchers Have
Strong Track Records In Series
Burnett suffered through a tough month of May (5.50 ERA) after beginning his Phillies career with a 2.15 ERA in six April starts. Wildness has plagued him this season with three games in which he walked six and five more free passes in another outing.
The veteran righty was solid when he tangled with the Nats on May 3, limiting them to three hits and a run in his six innings. Burnett is 4-0 with a tiny 1.43 ERA in seven starts against them since they moved to Washington.
Strasburg closed May with a nice win vs. Texas last Friday, stopping a 3-game skid for the Nationals in his previous three assignments. He has made eight consecutive quality starts, a string that includes a May 2 start in Philly where he surrendered three unearned run in six innings of a 5-3 Washington victory. That left the Nats 5-2 in his seven career outings vs. the Phils, Strasburg sporting a 2.28 ERA in those contests.
Umpire Notes, Mother
Nature & A Free Pick
Now in his 20th season umpiring MLB games, Ed Hickox started with 'under' winners in his first four plate assignments, but three of the subsequent six went past the total. His only appearance in DC this season pushed a 7 run total on May 17.
Bettors will want to keep an eye on the weather in DC today as rain chances slowly increase throughout the afternoon, reaching 40% at game time and going up after that. A light southerly breeze (out to left) and temps in the low-80s are also in the forecast for first pitch.
A lot of the Phillies' problems have been blamed on pitching, and for good reason with Philadelphia 23rd in the majors in ERA (4.15). That doesn't excuse their offense, however, that was zeroed for the third time in 12 games. They will have a veteran on the hill in Burnett tonight, and he has shown a penchant for beating the Nats in the past, but I'm not buying it for this game. Washington on the run line is my free pick in Game 2.
My pick: Nationals -1.5 (+120)Season: 54-55 (-2.70)
Phillies vs. Nationals Game 1
By: Willie Bee
It may not be the best division in all of baseball, but the NL East is presently one of the tightest groups from top to bottom as the Philadelphia Phillies head to Washington for a big 3-game series with the Nationals.
The Phils and Nats crank things up in DC with a 7:05 PM (ET) first pitch on Tuesday, that offering coming from Jordan Zimmermann's right arm. David Buchanan counters for Philadelphia in only his third major league appearance.
Opening numbers had Washington -170 chalk, and not much changed on the moneyline following overnight action. An 8 run total that favors the 'under' is what we're seeing for the most part on SBR's live MLB odds, though a couple of 7.5's have popped up.
Phils & Nats In
Losing Ruts As Series Gets Underway
Philadelphia (24-30, -5.6 units, 28-20-6 O/U/P) just concluded an 11-game homestand with a big thud Monday as the Mets ran away with an 11-2 rout. It was the third-straight defeat for the Phillies who dropped four games to New York in a long 5-game series that included three consecutive extra inning affairs. They had split six games with the Dodgers and Rockies before the Mets arrived in Philly, and Ryne Sandberg's crew is now bringing up the rear of the NL East.
Washington (27-28, -6.9 units, 27-21-7 O/U/P) enjoyed a second day off during its current homestand, resting Monday following a weekend series vs. the Rangers in which the Nationals won two of three after losing six of the previous seven. The Nats also had last Thursday off, as well as Tuesday when the middle game of their series with the Marlins was rained out. Washington is expected to bring Ryan Zimmerman (thumb) off the DL for Tuesday's contest, and he could be in left field for the first time in his major league career.
This is the second of six meetings between the NL East foes after Philadelphia hosted Washington in early-May. The Phils took two of three in that series on the heels of dropping 11 of 19 clashes in 2013. Two of May's matchups went 'over' the mark.
The Phils are 28-26 at Nationals Park since it opened in 2008, but the Nats have won 11 of the last 13 on their diamond. Seven of the nine games played in Washington last year sailed past the totals.
Zimmermann Hopes For Better Times In June
Buchanan was called up a little more than a week ago to take the spot in Philadelphia's rotation that opened up when Cliff Lee hit the DL due to a sore left elbow. A 7th-round pick by the Phils in 2010 out of Georgia State, the righthander advanced pretty quickly through the system to begin 2014 at Triple-A Lehigh where Buchanan was 5-1 in nine starts with a 3.98 ERA.
His first two MLB starts came in Philadelphia where he and the Phillies split the assignments. Buchanan's arsenal includes a fastball in the low-90s plus a curve and slider.
Zimmermann suffered a bit in May with 15 earned runs allowed over the course of 22.2 innings in his four most recent starts. The Nationals have lost his last two assignments after winning the previous four, and four of their five losses when Zimmermann takes the hill have come at home. He missed the Phils earlier this season, and is 4-4 in eight starts vs. Philadelphia with a 2.81 ERA.
There is some rain in the DC forecast for Tuesday, but it's supposed to clear off by game time when a muggy 80º greets the game with a light SW breeze (out to center).
It's difficult to have much confidence in either team or either pitcher right now. That leaves me thinking offense for my free pick in Game 1.
My Pick: Phillies-Nationals Over 7.5 (-110)
Season: 53-54 (-2.80)