Friday's Game 1 of 3 in Miami opened as a pick'em on MLB odds between the Nats and Marlins, both projected to be the two best teams in the NL East but disappointing thus far.
First Manager Fired?
Did you get a bet down on the sportsbooks that offered the "First Manager to be Fired" prop? Miami's Mike Redmond certainly was a long shot, but he might be the first to go because the Marlins are probably the biggest disappointments in baseball. That's not going to stand much longer for owner Jeffrey Loria, not the most patient man in the world when it comes to making changes on his club.
The Miami Herald recently reported that Redmond was squarely on the hot seat and that the Marlins already were targeting New York Mets Triple-A coach Wally Backman as his replacement. Backman has gotten interviews a few times for big-league jobs and likely was in line to replace Terry Collins had the Mets gotten off to a slow start, which they definitely have not. Loria did meet with Redmond on Tuesday and was non-committal on his manager's status. That's ominous. Will he at least get until the end of April? Could Loria make a move before this game as it starts a nine-game homestand?
Washington hasn't lost a season series to Miami since 2011 and took 13 of 19 last year, including seven of 10 in south Florida. Jayson Werth did the major damage among the Washington hitters, batting .393 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 16 games. Bryce Harper played in 15 and had a .400 average, five doubles, a homer and six RBIs. Anthony Rendon hit .296 with a homer and nine RBIs while striking out 15 times in 18 games. He's the only Nationals regular who has yet to debut this season. Rendon was set to start a minor-league rehab assignment Friday as he works his way back from a knee injury. Werth and fellow outfielder Denard Span also had their season debuts delayed but are playing now.
For Miami, slugger Giancarlo Stanton played in 11 of the 19 games vs. Washington last season and hit .333 with three homers and 11 RBIs. Marcell Ozuna hit .315 with a homer and five RBIs. Outfielder Christian Yelich (.225, 16 strikeouts in 18 games) and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (.191, 10 strikeouts in 19 games) both struggled against that excellent Washington pitching staff. Yelich could miss this entire series with back problems and may head to the DL. That would mean a spot in the lineup for Ichiro Suzuki.
Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (1-2, 6.14) gets the call for Washington. He's set to become a free agent next winter and presumably a very rich man, but Zimmermann hasn't helped himself thus far in 2015. His first start, a win over the Mets, was about what you have come to expect from him: six innings pitched, five hits and one run allowed with four strikeouts and no walks. He was obliterated in start No. 2 in Boston, allowing eight runs in 2.1 innings. Then on April 18 vs. the Phillies, Zimmermann allowed four runs (two earned) over 6.1 innings in a loss. Last season, he was 3-0 with a 3.28 ERA in six starts -- by far his most against any opponent -- vs. Miami. He no-hit the Marlins in the season finale. Miami batters hit only .229 off him. Stanton has had success, going 7-for-26 with three homers and six RBIs career against Zimmermann. Marlins leading hitter Dee Gordon is just 1-for-9 off him.
Miami goes with big offseason trade acquisition Mat Latos (0-3, 10.24), and it's fair to say the former Cincinnati Red has been a disappointment thus far. Actually, he has improved in each start. Latos' numbers are pretty inflated by his season debut when he lasted just two-thirds of an inning vs. Atlanta and allowed seven runs. In his most recent start, April 18 at the Mets, Latos allowed two runs and six hits over five innings along with his first dinger of the season. In 2014, he made one start vs. the Nats while with the Reds and allowed three runs and three hits in six innings. Werth is just 1-for-12 with four strikeouts off Latos. Harper is 0-for-6. Keep that in mind when placing your MLB picks.
MLB Betting Verdict
Both guys are better than they've pitched. Miami is 2-8 in its past 10 at home vs. right-handers and just 1-5 in its past six series openers. The 'under' is 6-1 in the past seven meetings at sportsbooks.
MLB Free Picks: Take Washington and the 'under' at The Greek.