Pick Dodgers to Cover vs. Nationals in Tonight's Game

Willie Bee

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 2:14 PM UTC

Tuesday, Sep. 2, 2014 2:14 PM UTC

Washington owns the best record in the National League, but the Nationals are facing long MLB odds to add to their 78-win total tonight vs. Clayton Kershaw and the LA Dodgers.

It may be one of the final games on Tuesday's MLB betting card, but it's the contest that is foremost on everyone's mind, and that's saying something since the Red Sox and Yankees are about to renew their rivalry in New York.

The National League's top two clubs continue their series in Los Angeles where the Dodgers look to even things up with the Washington Nationals.  Adding to the excitement of the potential NLCS preview is the fact the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, is up for the Dodgers.

Kershaw is slated to deliver the game's first pitch at 10:10 PM (ET), and he'll be opposed by Washington's Doug Fister.  It should come as no surprise to see Los Angeles chalked up around the -200 level at several books monitored by SBR's live MLB odds, nor should it be a shock to see a low 6 run total that could drop a half-run before the matchup gets underway.

Long Ball Leads Nats To Game 1 Victory
The Dodgers have pretty much owned the Nationals in LA in recent times, winning 19 of the 23 contests played at home before this series began and last losing a set here in 2005.  But Washington took a big step towards taking this series with a 6-4 triumph in the opener.  Denard Span led a 4-HR attack against Los Angeles' Roberto Hernandez with two clouts, and just to show they aren't just a team built on power, the Nationals also added four steals.

Monday's win gave Washington a 3-1 advantage in the rivalry this season after taking two of three from the Dodgers in DC back in early-May.  That was just the second Nats dubya in LA in the last nine tilts, totals running 4-5 (O/U) in those clashes.

Washington eased out to a 2-game lead over the Dodgers for the best NL record.  The win did come with a bit of a cost as Nationals 1B Adam LaRoche left Game 1 with a sore back.  He is not expected to be in the lineup tonight, leaving either Tyler Moore or the versatile Kevin Frandsen to man first on Tuesday.

Kershaw Looks To Build On Repeat Cy Young Honors
Fister closed out August with a couple of rough outings, both Washington setbacks.  The fact he still recorded a 2.25 ERA for the month should give you an idea how well he was throwing in the first four assignments, and the Fresno State alum entered August off a perfect 4-0 July (2.36 ERA).  The righthander had some minor surgery for skin cancer on his neck just before the losses to the Giants and Phillies, but insists that is not behind his struggles in those starts.

Tuesday will be the 6-year veteran's first career matchup vs. the Dodgers, and he is 6-3 on the road this season -- Washington 7-4 -- with a 2.91 ERA.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you already know what kind of campaign Kershaw is having.  After missing all of April and posting a 4.08 ERA in May, the southpaw has helped the Dodgers to 15 wins in 16 appearances the past three months, allowing one run or less in 15 of his 22 starts.  Kershaw beat the Nats in DC his first start back from the DL in May, dancing around nine hits with the aid of nine strikeouts to hold them scoreless in seven frames.

Umpire Notes, Final Thoughts & A Free Pick
Calling his fourth Dodger game of the year, and second with Kershaw on the mound, will be veteran umpire Ted Barrett.  The Washington native has been streaky at times on the totals, but brings a fairly flat 12-11-2 (O/U/P) record on the season into this affair.  The three previous Dodger games Barrett has worked ran 1-2 (O/U), the 'over' in Kershaw's May 11 start vs. the Giants that saw six of the combined 11 runs scoring after both he and San Fran starter Tim Hudson were out of the contest.

We don't have to concern ourselves with the weather with clear skies, the mid-70s at game time and a light SW breeze (out to right).  What we do need to worry about are the conflicting total results that Fister (5-0 O/U last five) and Kershaw (1-6 O/U last seven) bring into the battle.  That has me looking elsewhere for my free MLB pick, and LA on the run line will get my nod.

MLB pick: Dodgers -1.5 (+120) at Bet365
Season: 109-114 (-5.85)

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