The Philadelphia Phillies used to call the shots in the National League East, at the end of the previous decade. Now they've become the clear team to beat. Entering this weekend’s series in the District of Columbia, is there anything the Phillies can do to slow the Nationals down or cash on the MLB lines?
The Philadelphia Phillies Can Win Because…
Their starting pitcher is coming off his best outing of the season by far. Sean O’Sullivan is not a household name, but he’s not a spring chicken – he’s a fifth-year player, age 27. He’s not going to be intimidated the way a 22-year-old rookie might.
O’Sullivan has made just 43 career starts. It’s enough to get noticed, but not enough to establish himself as a higher-level major-league pitcher. O’Sullivan has made just four starts this season, but he’s definitely progressing in the right direction. After two difficult starts on April 17 and May 12 in which he gave up a total of seven runs, O’Sullivan cleaned up what needed to be addressed. He managed to get hitters slightly more off balance, hitting 10 fly balls, but not off the sweet spot of the bat. O’Sullivan shut out the Arizona Diamondbacks over the course of six innings, scattering five hits and two walks. This brought O’Sullivan’s ERA down to 3.68, and should put him in a very good frame of mind for this next start against Washington.
The Phillies, by winning that recent series against Arizona, have been able to put together a winning seven-day stretch, so after a miserable month of April, there are some small but real signs that they’re stabilizing. This could be a mirage, but if you wanted to bet on the Phillies, now is certainly a better time than back in April was; and the MLB betting odds makers have them as underdogs as well for tonight.
The Washington Nationals Can Win Because…
Their starting pitcher has been outstanding this season, living up to the hype when coming over from another team. Max Scherzer left the Detroit Tigers to get a big payday with the Nationals. No longer in the American League, Scherzer is loving the ability to pitch to a hitting pitcher, instead of the designated hitter. His ERA is a very scant 1.75 through a month and a half of competition and eight starts. He’s pitched at least six innings in every start. He’s pitched at least seven innings in seven of those eight starts. He’s given up no more than two earned runs in seven of his starts, no more than one earned run in six of his starts. He’s simply kicked butt. In his last two starts combined, Scherzer has pitched 14 innings and given up one total run on nine total hits, with only three overall walks issued and 17 total strikeouts. This guy’s a beast, and he’s not showing signs of slowing down. He’s a much better pitcher than Sean O’Sullivan, and about that, there cannot be any real doubt.
One pitcher is decent but not all that experienced and not that accustomed to pitching into the eighth inning. The other pitcher is dominant, heavily experienced, and heavily favored. It’s too much juice to lay with the Nats here, so go under with your MLB picks. We should see a dominant effort from Scherzer, which should lead to a low-scoring game.
MLB Pick: Under at Bovada