MLB Picks: Stick To The Total In Nationals vs. Reds Game

Jason Lake

Friday, June 3, 2016 11:00 AM UTC

Friday, Jun. 3, 2016 11:00 AM UTC

Something's not right with Gio Gonzalez. His recent form makes the Washington Nationals a bad baseball pick for Friday's series opener against the Cincinnati Reds.

Even the best pitchers have bad games now and then. Gio Gonzalez had three bad games last month. That's got to be worrisome for the Washington Nationals (33-21, +5.97 units) and their supporters, especially when Gonzalez began the 2016 regular season with five straight quality starts, allowing just four earned runs in 31.1 innings of work. What happened to Gio? And can they fix it before Friday's game (7:10 p.m. ET) against the Cincinnati Reds?

Maybe it won't matter in the end. The Reds (19-35, –13.02 units) are one of the worst teams in the National League, and they're near the back of their rotation, sending sophomore lefty Brandon Finnegan to the mound on Friday. Cincinnati has lost nine of Finnegan's 11 starts for a deficit of 6.87 betting units. So do we put the Nationals in our MLB picks? They're –155 road faves as we go to press, so... maybe?


Finnegan's Wake
The fine folks at FiveThirtyEight aren't convinced. They've got Washington winning this game 59 percent of the time, which translates to –144 on our delicious SBR Betting Odds Converter. We're already looking askance at these projections here at the ranch, but given the way Gonzalez (3.84 FIP) has pitched over the past month, maybe a bet on the Reds is justified at these MLB odds.

Finnegan (5.15 FIP) does look like an intriguing buy-low prospect at this stage of his career. He's walking too many batters – 4.43 per nine innings this year. And his .250 BABIP suggests the bad kind of regression is around the corner. But Finnegan's got three good pitches, and he's given up three earned runs or fewer in nine of his 11 starts. His floor is higher than Gonzalez' at the moment.


Fantasy Corner
Too bad the Reds can't hit the broad side of a barn. They're No. 28 in the majors at 0.9 WAR, and No. 26 with a .690 OPS. Even worse, current Cincinnati batters have a combined .655 OPS versus Gonzalez. The old Gonzalez, that is. Maybe they'll do better Friday night against the alien that's inhabiting his body right now.

We're still going to recommend a Washington reliever for your fantasy team. The Nats had Thursday off, so everyone should be available, including lefty Felipe Rivero (2.68 FIP). He's got holds coming out of his ears – 12 of them on the season (holds, that is, not ears), and seven in a row dating back to May 18.

Washington is likely to win Friday's game, but the odds don't justify a bet in this case. Make it a small wager on the Over instead. That's the choice of 100 percent of early bettors, according to our consensus reports. The total's a bit big at 8.5 runs, but they're playing at the Great American Ball Park, which has a 1.336 park factor for home runs this year. Puncher's chance.

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Free MLB Pick: Over 8½ +100
Best Line Offered: at Heritage
Record: 10-10 ML, 2-0 Totals (+2.29 units)

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