Nationals Are Tearing Cover Off Ball, So Back Them vs. Diamondbacks

Matthew Jordan

Monday, May 1, 2017 7:40 PM UTC

Monday, May. 1, 2017 7:40 PM UTC

No pitcher in his right mind should want to face the Washington Nationals right now with way they raked in the month of April. The Nats open a three-game series Tuesday (7:05 p.m. ET) against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

MLB Season Record: 10-4

Arizona Diamondbacks At Washington Nationals (-140, 8.5)

It was a good news, bad news weekend for NL East leader Washington as it opens a series Tuesday night against an Arizona team battling for the NL West lead and much improved in 2017.

The bad news for the Nats was Friday against the Mets when outfielder Adam Eaton landed awkwardly at first base trying to beat out an infield hit. It looked bad and it was: Eaton tore up his knee and is done for the season. It’s a big loss as Eaton was hitting .297 with two homers, 13 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .393 that was second-best in the majors among leadoff men. He also played very good defense in center field. The Nats gutted their farm system’s pitching depth by sending three top prospects to the Chicago White Sox this past winter to get Eaton. Shortstop Trea Turner will hit leadoff now and Michael Taylor gets the first crack at center field.

The news was good for Washington on Sunday as it avoided a three-game sweep vs. the Mets with a 23-5 destruction. Third baseman Anthony Rendon had one of the greatest hitting days in MLB history by going 6-for-6 with three homers, 10 RBIs and five runs scored. Rendon began the day with no homers and five RBIs on the season and became the first player to go 6-for-6 with at least three home runs and 10 RBIs in a game since RBIs became an official stat in 1920. It was the 13th game in MLB history in which a player had 10 RBIs. It last happened in 2007 by the Angels’ Garret Anderson. In one game, Rendon raised his batting average from .226 to .278, his on-base percentage from .316 to .356 and his slugging percentage from .250 to 411.

The Nationals lead the majors by a wide margin in runs with 170, a franchise record since moving to D.C. for any month. That amounted to 6.8 per game in April, the fifth-best mark in MLB history in a minimum of 25 games. The record of 7.24 runs was set by the 2000 White Sox.  Washington was the first team since at least 1920 to finish April with MLB's top three RBI guys: Ryan Zimmerman with 29, Bryce Harper with 26 and Daniel Murphy with 26. Harper scored 32 runs in the month, the only player since 1900 to do so in April.

There was an additional piece of good news for Washington on Sunday because Mets ace Noah Syndergaard left in the second inning with a partially torn lat muscle and he’s out indefinitely. Now it’s almost impossible to see the Mets challenge the Nationals in the division. Washington should win the East comfortably.

To no surprise, the Nats have been a good ‘over’ MLB bet thus far at 14-9-2 O/U. Arizona is no slouch, ranking second in the majors in runs. The Snakes were kept off the scoreboard for 12 innings Sunday at home against Colorado but avoided the sweep with a 2-0 win in 13 innings. Daniel Descalso hit the walk-off homer, his first such career game-ending dinger. It’s a good thing the Diamondbacks were off Monday because they used seven pitchers in that game.


Probable Pitchers

It’s Taijuan Walker on the mound for Arizona. The former touted prospect was acquired this offseason in the Jean Segura trade from Seattle. Walker (3-1, 3.94), still just 24, comes off his best start as a Diamondback in allowing two runs and four hits while striking out a career-high-tying 11 in a win over the Padres. Walker can have some control problems at times but didn’t walk anyone. Walker has never faced Washington but a few Nationals have seen him. Matt Wieters is 4-for-6 with a double and homer. Murphy is 1-for-3 with a double.

Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark (3-0, 3.64) might be the best No. 3 starter in the majors. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned in his five outings. Roark pitched in the thin air of Coors Field last time out and got the win, allowing two runs and five hits over five innings. He did walk four.

Last year, Roark was 1-1 with a 6.97 ERA in two starts against Arizona. The Snakes hit .268 off him with four homers in 10.1 innings. Paul Goldschmidt is 2-for-8 with an RBI off him. Yasmany Tomas is 2-for-6 with two homers and four RBIs.

I’m tempted to go ‘over’ here instead of a side pick with two such potent offenses. However, you tend to see teams struggle offensively after such a huge game like Washington just had. The Nats are 4-0 in their past four following an off day, while Arizona is just 1-5 in its past six in that scenario. The Snakes are just 5-17 in their past 22 in D.C. Washington is the MLB pick here.

Free MLB Pick: Nationals -140Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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