MLB Picks: Zimmermann & Nationals vs. Samardzija & Cubs

Joe Freda

Monday, August 19, 2013 12:10 PM GMT

The Chicago Cubs have gone 1-5 in the first six dates of their present homestand, including three shutout setbacks. How will they fare today against the arm of Zimmermann?

Dale Sveum’s squad opens a four-game set with the Washington Nationals as part of Monday’s MLB betting, with righties Jeff Samardzija and Jordan Zimmermann squaring off. 

Cubs stay cold, Nats edged out

Chicago’s latest defeat came in Sunday’s 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, dropping the affair as a 164 underdog. Cubs mates Darwin Barney and Anthony Rizzo united to leave nine men on base, each logging 0-for-4 days at the plate.

Washington ended its weekend with a 2-1 setback on the same card, failing to cash as a 111 MLB odds underdogs against the Atlanta Braves. Nationals outfielder Denard Span went 3-for-5 from the leadoff spot, while Bryce Harper and Chad Tracy each poked one double. 

Samardzija outdueled at home

Samardzija came away with a no-decision in Tuesday’s 6-4 defeat for Chicago as a 128 home dog against the Cincinnati Reds. The Indiana native allowed four runs over six innings, while giving up six hits and four walks.

Chicago’s Donnie Murphy cracked one of his side’s three homers, tying the matchup in the seventh inning, 4-4. The battle went into extra frames, with Cubs reliever Eduardo Sanchez giving up two runs in the top of the 11th for his staff’s loss.

Zimmermann goes seven for win

Zimmermann notched his second win in three starts with Wednesday’s 6-5 victory as a 148 home favorite over the San Francisco Giants. The 27-year-old held the Giants’ lineup to one run on six hits, lasting for seven innings.

Washington surged to an early 6-1 lead thanks to five runs in the fourth frame, including an RBI-double from second baseman Anthony Rendon. Nationals closer Rafael Soriano anchored four relievers for his 31st save, while the contest soared OVER the ‘total’ of seven.

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Back the Nationals as road ‘chalk’

Zimmermann opened as a 134 road favorite on Bet365’s MLB odds board, while BetOnline.ag posted a ‘total’ of 7 ½ (UNDER minus 115). The weather forecast in Chicago calls for a clear 77 degrees, with calm winds blowing outward.

I am adding Zimmermann and the Nationals to Monday’s card of free picks, looking for the road ‘chalk’ to collect in this opener.

Zimmermann has tossed some tight ball on the road, giving up a stingy 1.08 WHIP and .278 OBP over nine starts. Washington is 4-3 in the span’s seven spots as a favorite, while going 12-3 in Zimmermann’s last 15 road starts against clubs with losing records.

Samardzija has surrendered a sizable 1.56 WHIP and .359 OBP as part of his 13 starts at Wrigley Field, with Chicago logging a 4-9 mark. The Cubs continue to fall short of matching their opposition’s octane, held to a sparse 1.6 RPG in their last nine home dates.

Washington is 7-2 in its last nine contests when facing a club scoring two runs or less in its prior game, while Chicago is a dismal 1-7 in its last eight home duels facing righty starters. Look for these trends to hold serve here, with the Nationals taking an early driver’s seat in this series.

Free MLB Pick: Washington Nationals -134 at Bet365