For movie fans and MLB baseball handicappers there has been a fair comparison between the kind of season Stephen Strasburg is having and the 2015 flick - Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Both have or are getting bombed
At least the Washington right-hander still has a chance to change his luck, something the movie cannot. But is Strasburg’s confidence so shaken even a team like Cincinnati thinks they can win and pound out more hits and runs against what was once the top pitching prospect in baseball.
Let us look further into both clubs and entertain the thoughts of how they might perform in the series opener versus the MLB odds.
Lately, Washington Leaning on Harper and Pitching
The Washington Nationals have been on a tear since late April at 20-6 and picked +13.7 units in the process to take over first place in the NL East. For the first 19 of those games, it was Bryce Harper and the offense lifting Washington to the top scoring team in the league at five runs a game. But in the past week, the offense has been lowered to two sources, Harper and Denard Span.
In spite of a 5-2 record, the Nats offense has slowed to a crawl in averaging 2.4 runs a contest. Ryan Zimmerman is hitting just .147 (5 for 35) and Jayson Werth’s nightmare season took a turn for the worse when word came Thursday he has two broken bones in his hand from being hit by a pitch presumably on May 15th and is out until August. Werth was hitting only .209 coming off shoulder surgery.
Ian Desmond is batting .347 (17 for 49) over a 12-game stretch to lift his batting average to .257 and he and others might have to pick up more of the load if Washington is to continue to beat the betting odds and be chosen by those putting together sports picks.
Cincinnati Cold as Ice
It was hardly a joyous occasion, more like a relief as the Reds ended their nine-game losing streak on Tuesday. However, they came right back and lost the next day at home to Colorado and now has a worse record than the Rockies at 19-27 (-9.2 units).
Cincinnati has not been good offensively anyways in ringing up only 3.7 runs per game, but this recent drought of 2.6 RPG has them looking like many of the lawns in southern California, all dried up. There is no good explanation for the Reds offense being this bad, with most of their main players no older than in the early 30’s and many others younger and Great American Ballpark is a hitter’s park.
There is a definite lethargy about Cincy and maybe a trade is necessary to shake things up.
Pitching Matchup – Strasburg vs. DeSclafani
In Strasburg’s (3-5, 6.50 ERA) past three starts he has an ERA of 11.26, gulp. To say he’s missing his spots and catching too much of the plate is oversimplifying matters with 20 hits surrendered in 12 innings. For those with at least nine starts, his ERA is the second-highest in the NL and his WHIP of 1.69 is the worst. What makes this all the more puzzling in this last quadrant of starts, his fastball is back to 95-97 range like when he first joined Washington a few years ago, but he getting hit hard and often. Against the Reds he’s 1-1 with 5.50 ERA.
Anthony DeSclafina (2-4, 3.46) was acquired from Miami for Mat Latos and has a good fastball-slider combo with adequate control and has an aggressive mentality of challenging hitters inside. Is he a long term solution for Cincinnati at the back of the rotation, that remains to be seen but with the Reds 4-5 in his starts with their offense, he give a chances versus the betting odds.
Odds and Outcome
If you visited sportsbooks like WagerWeb on the overnight line, seeing Washington and Strasburg as -135 road favorites could have made you tremble thinking about MLB picks. However, he is not injured, still has ability and more likely needs a big shot of confidence and Cincinnati might be able to provide it.
Besides the recent losing, the Reds are also 1-10 this season against winning teams. The Nationals remain on a major roll and are 21-5 after day off and most likely find a way to win as long as Strasburg is not pummeled again.
MLB Pick: Washington wins