This is the most important series of the season so far for both of these teams, and tonight we've got a great pitching matchup. Who should we back with our MLB picks?
Oddsmakers don't believe either one of these teams have a major advantage, and that's reflected in the MLB odds. It's obvious to see why: we've got two very reliable starters taking the bump, and a lot is on the line with these two teams chasing the playoffs.
As of now, the Nationals are barely tipped as the odds-on favorites, listed at -110 to win. That leaves Matt Harvey and the Mets as underdogs (+105), which will be a very appealing spot to many. And, as expected, we see a pretty low total of 7.5 runs on the board for now.
Washington Nationals (Zimmermann)
Don't count out the Nationals just yet. Sure, they lost yesterday's series opener against the team they're chasing, but they've still closed the gap quite a bit recently. Washington has won five of six and is now just five games back of New York for first place in the NL East.
Things are getting very interesting down the stretch, and game two of the series should be a doozy as well. Jordan Zimmermann gets the call for the Nationals, and he's gone 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.21 WHIP so far this season. The 29-year-old has settled down nicely after a couple shaky outings in August, having allowed just one earned run in each of his last two assignments (spanning 13 innings).
Zimmermann has been great at home too, going 7-3 with a 2.52 ERA over 16 starts, but he'll face a tough test against a resurgent Mets offense, led by Yoenis Cespedes, this evening.
New York Mets (Harvey)
The Mets just can't seem to string together wins lately, as they've alternated victories and losses over their last seven games. They're standing at 76-61 overall and remain five games up on the surging Nationals.
Fortunately for New York, however, they were able to secure the W yesterday and now will send out one of their best arms in Harvey. The righty is 12-7 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, and he has even more effective since the All-Star break, going 4-1 with a 1.64 ERA over eight starts in the second half of the season. He was outstanding in August, posting a ridiculous 0.33 ERA across 27 innings, so he'll be entering tonight's game full of confidence.
The big issue with Harvey has been his number of innings, as the franchise tries to find the right balance of going for it all this season and preserving one of their best pitching assets for the future. He'll be toeing the rubber tonight, though, and that's all that matters for us.
At the end of the day, this is a very difficult game to call. The Nationals have been on a bit of a roll as they try to rally and make the playoffs, but that doesn't mean we should lock and load with them.
That's especially true when you consider which pitcher they'll be facing tonight. Harvey may not be having his most dominant season ever, but he's still one heck of a pitcher, and he's shut down Washington many times over his career already. Don't be surprised to see it happen again, with New York hopeful of holding on to the top spot in the division.
With that said, we're going to be adding the Mets to your MLB picks for the day. New York has already had success against Zimmermann in 2015, generating 18 hits and nine runs over 19 innings of work), and they found their hitting touch again in last night's 8-5 win. We look for that to carry over and for Harvey to do his thing on the mound.
Free MLB Pick: New York Mets +105 at 5Dimes