Although his road numbers are not that great this season, I'm shading Gio Gonzalez & the Washington Nationals with MLB picks today as they take on John Lackey and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Nationals vs. Cardinals MLB odds
With the best record in the National League the Cardinals have been made the natural favorite by MLB odds makers, and the Nationals the underdog at around +130. Those are pretty standard odds across the board but I think this gives us good value on Washington. You can find some good odds right now on Washington at +140 at 5Dimes.
Read Charles' MLB Pick for Indians vs. Blue Jays, too.
Gio Gonzalez gets the start for Washington with a 4.11 ERA, 1.48 whip, 123 strikeouts, and at 9-7 record. He is having an off-season compared to his career numbers of a 3.65 ERA and 1.32 whip. On the road this year his ERA jumps to just under 5.00, but in his last three years he has a very solid road ERA at 3.59 with batters only hitting .218 against him when he travels. After pitching great from the beginning of July until just a couple weeks ago he has been roughed up in his last three starts allowing 14 earned runs total in just 12 innings pitched. This is a good bounce back spot, he is a solid major league starter and I expect him to pitch well today against the Cardinals team just coming back from a road trip.
Washington ranks 14th in runs scored per game at 4.29, 15th and OPS at .716, and 21st in team batting average hitting .249. That batting average stays the same for them whether they are at home or away, but their runs per game does go up just a little bit on the road. Recently they have been knocking the ball around very well averaging about five runs a game in their last five games. They face a tough task in Lackey today, but the Nationals are not that far out of the race in the AL East and seem to have some momentum coming into the series.
St. Louis Cardinals
John Lackey takes the mound for St. Louis and comes in with a 2.92 ERA, 1.20 whip, 127 strikeouts, and and 11-8 record. He is having the best year he has had as a major leaguer in recent memory and has been really solid in his last 10 games. At home he has a ridiculous ERA under 2.00 but the only thing this brings in to question in my mind is why is he not a bigger favorite? I think odds makers understand Washington has a very good chance to win this game thus making the Cardinals not as big of a favorite as a probably should be. But that is just speculation on my part, statistically wise although he has been pretty sharp in his last three starts he has given up 25 hits with just only seven runs. Don't expect him to shut down a Washington team that is swinging the bat well right now.
The Cardinals rank 21st in runs scored per game at 4.01, 17th and OPS at .712, and 13th in team batting average hitting .254. Although their batting average and OPS go up at home their run total per game actually goes down in St. Louis. They are coming back from a really long road trip which is never easy offensively. The last two times this season have come back from a road trip they have scored four runs twice but that was against two pitchers in Jeff Locke and Chris Young who are not as good as Gonzalez in my opinion.
This is some pretty good plus money value to go ahead and take Washington. Although the Cardinals are arguably the best team in baseball and coming back road trip is never an easy task. Place Monday's money line MLB Picks on Gonzalez and the Nationals to pull the upset.
MLB Picks: Nationals +130 from Bovada