Nationals to Beat Rockies at Coors Field Tonight!

Doug Upstone

Monday, July 21, 2014 3:04 PM GMT

As both these National League teams approach the 100-game mark, those making MLB picks find one team in contention and the other left to play for pride and stats padding. 

This is what occurs this time of year, as quality takes over and lesser teams fade into obscurity, only having next season to think about to truly improve.

 

The Playoff Hunt Begins for Washington
After taking two of three from another first place team in Milwaukee, Nationals players understand if they wait to August to really consider the pennant race, they might find themselves at a disadvantage.

Washington is in a virtual tie with Atlanta atop the NL East and opens an important nine-game road trip. The Nats have been pedestrian on the road at 23-23 (-1.9 units), only averaging 3.9 runs per game.

With their entire everyday lineup back intact, this would be a great chance for the offense to get on a roll and that would mean the continued hot hitting of catcher Wilson Ramos, whose lifted his batting average 20 points in the past 13 games and Bryce Harper talking less and producing more.

Given the state of the Rockies, Washington has a real opportunity to get hot offensively before heading to Cincinnati for a weekend series.

 

Rockies Falling in the Standings
How bad has it gotten for manager Walt Weiss and his club? As awful as Arizona has been all season, with Colorado being swept at Pittsburgh and the Diamondbacks sweeping the Cubs, the Rockies are the new occupants of the NL West basement.

In the Rocks most recent five-game losing streak, they have been outscored by an immense 2.6 RPG and hardball bettors checking out the MLB odds know how to view Colorado when generating sports picks.

The Rockies pitchers do not miss many bats and the Colorado lineup card has many battling aging injuries, which has Weiss using a pencil instead of a pen for his batting order lately, not knowing who will be available.

Colorado does play better at home (24-25, -4.9) but is hardly a sure bet like they were early in the season.

 

Pitching Matchup for Monday
Doug Fister (8-2, 2.90 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) is a sinker ball pitcher and the general consensus among MLB handicappers is these types of hurlers are most effective when on normal routine or even a little fatigued, which adds sink to their tosses. However, Fister last pitched on July 9, a dozen days ago, which under normal circumstances might elevate his tosses, which can mean an early exit at Coors Field.

However, Fister is a little different in the respect he can also strike opposing hitters with the high fastball, changing their eye level and having enough velocity to throw it by them.

Franklin Morales will get the call for Colorado and the veteran southpaw enters Monday's game with a 5-4 record and a 5.26 ERA (1.52 WHIP) on the year. Morales has been more effective of late with a 1.69 ERA in two starts this month, but right-handed hitters are batting .295 against him.

 

Bullpen View
Granted, pitching in Coors does alter numbers, nonetheless, the talent differential between the two bullpens is extreme. Washington relievers are second in ERA at 2.67 in the NL and third in OBP (.297) and OPS (.619). As noted by anyone looking over the betting odds, Colorado is last in the league in all three categories with an ERA of 4.76, an OBP of .342 and OBS of .772.

In other words, if the Nationals are ahead or tied, you have to like their chances of winning, even at a mile high.

 

Head to Head Combat and Betting Odds
Washington won all three previous meetings with Colorado when they were the home team and they are 4-3 in their past two visits to the Rocky Mountains.

The Nationals opened as a -140 favorite and has bounced around in the -145 to -150 range since. The Rockies are 20-41 as +100 or higher underdog this season.

The total has also crept up from 10.5 to 11, though the Rocks are 34-16 UNDER after scoring four runs or less in three straight games since last season.

 

The Winner Is…
Fister is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA versus Colorado, but has never pitched in this park. There has to be some genuine concern Fister might not be sharp after 12 days off and he is 8-16 on the road with a money line of -100 to -150 the last two seasons. (Team's Record) Nevertheless, the Nationals are 15-10 against left-handed starters and the Rocks are 2-13 with an on-base percentage of .300 or worse over their last 15 games this season.
MLB Free Pick: Washington wins

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