Nationals vs. Dodgers: Young Arms Make 'Under' 1st 5 Innings Our MLB Pick

Jay Pryce

Thursday, June 23, 2016 2:02 PM UTC

Thursday, Jun. 23, 2016 2:02 PM UTC

A pair of young guns square off at Dodger Stadium tonight when Joe Ross and the Nationals look to avoid a sweep to teenage phenom Julio Urias and L.A. MLB pick with analysis here. 

Washington Nationals (43-29) – Joe Ross (6-4, 3.13 ERA)
The Nationals have lost four straight, and hope to avoid their third series sweep (Phillies, Cubs) of the season Wednesday night.

The young Joe Ross takes the bump for skipper Dusty Baker. Ross is 0-1 in one lifetime start against L.A., pinged for five earned runs on six hits in 4.2 innings pitched at Dodger Stadium last August. Owning a better road ERA than home this season (2.80:3.29), the Nats are hoping for better tonight.

Overall, the staff is looking for answers on the road of late. In the month of June, it is yielding 5.1 runs on 8.5 hits per game. The OVER is 9-3-1 in this spot with the Nats’ opponents going over their projected team total in 10 of the outings. Nonetheless, Washington still hover near the top of most team pitching stats in MLB, including holding hitters to the third-lowest average (.228), third-fewest hits (7.6) and most whiffs with a 26 percent strikeout percentage.

The UNDER is 11-2 in 13 career outings Ross has gone off the underdog. Although the right-hander has allowed just 31 earned runs in 71.2 frames in this situation, the Nats’ lineup supports him with just 2.5 runs per game. In 2016, the UNDER is 5-0 in this situation with a 5.8 average score line.

The Nats have lost 10 of their last 12 visiting California, the only two victories coming last week to the lowly Padres.


Los Angeles Dodgers (40-33) – Julio Urias (0-2, 4.50)
The Dodgers have won seven of the last eight, though they have benefited from some favorable matchups. Tossing the first pitch at average odds of -182 over this stretch, starter Julio Urias opens tonight at -120 on the MLB odds board, the highest L.A. line in 10 days.

The highly touted 19-year-old is winless in five starts this season, but has improved in each outing. He tossed five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts in his last appearance versus the Brewers. The southpaw has yet to work more than 5.1 frames this year, as the management has the youngster on a strict pitch count.

So, expect to see the pen early in this one. This may not offer much of an advantage for the Nats, as skipper Dave Roberts’ relief holds the visitors to a .219 batting average lifetime. Overall, his bullpen’s .605 OPS is the lowest in the bigs.

Offensively, the Dodgers’ 4.18 runs are down slightly from the 4.31 they averaged last season on this date, though scoring is up throughout league. Their 7.9 hits per game rank second-to-last behind the Phillies and Mets in MLB.

Power is largely lacking in the lineup with a .385 team slugging average. Roberts hopes activating Yasiel Puig from the DL yesterday will provide a spark. Missing his last 17 games to a strained left hamstring, the hard-hitting outfielder went 5-for-12 with a dinger in a five-game minor-league tune up.


Final Analysis
Since 2015, the Nats are 15-38 as underdogs, losing their last 11 straight when expected to by the betting market. Fading the NL East leaders has netted bettors roughly 27 percent profit in this spot. Ironically, only the Dodgers have a lower winning percentage in this situation during this span. We expect both youngsters to have their best stuff early on, however, and will play the UNDER through the first five innings. Hold out for a potential favorable line movement, as you might be able to grab U4 runs later in the day for your MLB pick tonight.

MLB Pick: 1st 5 innings Under 3.5 +103
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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