The San Diego Padres and Washington Nationals are trying to move well above .500 and establish themselves as high-level teams in the National League.
The Washington Nationals Can Win Because…
They have a starting pitcher who has clearly made the corrections needed to improve his season, which is something you might to consider when looking at the MLB odds. Doug Fister started the season extremely well, with two strong starts on April 11 and 16. He gave up a total of one earned run in those two starts, and the man who helped the Detroit Tigers in a number of playoff seasons (including the 2012 season which gave the Tigers an American League pennant) was on his way to another really good season for Washington. Fister was, of course, the one Nationals pitcher who won a playoff game last October. He defeated the San Francisco Giants in Game 3 of the National League Division Series in San Francisco.
However, as soon as Fister was taking off, he crashed. He gave up five runs in consecutive starts on April 22 and 27. He gave up 10 hits on April 27 to go along with two walks. Nothing about the way he was pitching was working very well. He was getting hit hard, and his location – which he depends on since he’s not a power pitcher – was off. Fister likes to run the ball inside and out. He gets great cutting action when he’s at his best, but his pitches were either sitting over the plate or running way off the plate to the point that hitters could take pitches and wait for something better. Fister had to find some solutions, and in early May, he seemed to find his release point again with a shutout of the New York Mets – the first-place team in the National League East – in 6 1/3 innings. He didn’t walk anyone, and he scattered only five hits. He exhibited great command. In his most recent start, he did give up three runs in 6 2/3 innings, but he wasn’t hit hard. He walked nobody and gave up just six hits. The memory of those five-run starts is distant.
The San Diego Padres Can Win Because…
They have a pitcher who is also improving. Tyson Ross has a 3.98 ERA, but you will notice that he’s not allowed more than four runs in any start this season. He’s allowed more than three runs only once. Why is his ERA so high? The answer is that he’s pitched under six innings in three starts, so when he’d give up three or four runs in those starts, the ERA swelled. In his last two starts, though, Ross has gone longer in games. He gave up two runs in seven innings on May 4 against San Francisco, and two runs in six innings on May 9 against Arizona. Ross also offers strong evidence that he is finding his legs right now.
The ERA for Fister (2.87) is over a run lower than Ross’ ERA. Combined with the fact that the Nats are on a roll right now, having won nine of 11, and that the Padres are scuffling, having lost seven of 10, and the Nats seem like the right choice. Take Washington with your MLB picks.
MLB Pick: Washington +108 at BetOnline