Tracking the Nationals: Season-Long MLB Picks and Handicapping for Washington Baseball
by Dave Schwab - 10/2/2014
I spent the MLB regular season handicapping the Washington Nationals as part of a betting strategy that relies on specialization. The better you know a team, the better you should be able to predict future results. To put this theory to the ultimate test I also released weekly picks utilizing Doc's Sports Unit Betting System. My goal was to earn a positive return on investment with these free picks, and I ended the regular season with a modest $486 profit.
It is now time to turn my attention to the Nationals' quest for a World Series title starting with the NLDS. Doc's will continue to post my free picks for the Nationals as long as they stay alive, so be sure to check their homepage to follow along with my progress. Hopefully I will be picking games all the way to this year's Fall Classic.
Washington Nationals Free Picks, Odds and Predictions
Friday, Oct. 3, 3:07 p.m. EST (Nationals Park)
Washington will begin its quest for a World Series title this Friday afternoon with Game 1 of its NLDS best-of-five series against San Francisco. The first pitch from Nationals Park to get this series underway is set for 3:07 p.m. (ET), and the game will be broadcast nationally on FOX Sports 1.
San Francisco rolled to an 8-0 victory over Pittsburgh in Wednesday's NL Wild Card game behind starter Madison Bumgarner as a slight -108 road favorite. The total went "over" the closing 6.5 line. The Giants are now 4-1 in their last five games, with the total going over in three of the five outings.
The Nationals cruised into the postseason with the best record in the NL at 96-66, which ended up being 17 games ahead of Atlanta and New York in the NL East. They finished strong with eight victories in their final 10 games, and the total stayed "under" in four of the final five games. Washington went 51-30 at Nationals Park this season.
San Francisco at Washington Betting Storylines
The Giants went with one of their top starters on Wednesday to try and advance to the NLDS, but once again it was their bats that came through to get to this round. Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford had the two biggest bats with a combined seven RBIs against the Pirates. However, Buster Posey remains the biggest threat in this lineup with a team-high 89 RBIs and 22 home runs in the regular season.
Look for San Francisco to go with Jake Peavy as its starter for Game 1. The right-hander went 6-4 this season in 12 starts with the Giants after coming over from Boston in July. His ERA with San Francisco was an impressive 2.17, and the team has won its last six games with him on the mound.
Washington's primary strength remains a pitching staff that finished the regular season ranked first in the Majors with an ERA of just 3.03, but it also had one of the more potent lineups in the NL this year. The Nationals were third in scoring behind Los Angeles and Colorado with an average of 4.24 runs a game. They boast four different players with at least 80 RBIs on the year. Adam LaRoche led the way with 92 RBIs, and he also led the team in home runs with 26.
Stephen Strasburg will get the call on Friday as Washington's starter. He is living proof that it is not how you start but how you finish after going 6-1 in his last nine starts. The right-hander has not allowed an earned run in his last three outings, and in 34 total starts this season he went 14-11 with an ERA of 3.14 and a 1.12 WHIP.
San Francisco at Washington MLB Betting Odds and Key Trends
BetOnline has opened Washington as a heavy -173 home favorite for this Friday's Game 1 at Nationals Park. San Francisco has been listed as a +163 road underdog, and the total for the game has been set at 6.5.
The Giants are a perfect 4-0 in their last four playoff games on the road, and they are 17-5 in their last 22 postseason games as underdogs. The total has gone over in nine of their last 12 games as underdogs on the road.
The Nationals have won the first game of their last six series, and they are 4-1 in their last five games against a team with a winning record. The total has gone over in their last six home games against a team that has a winning record on the road.
Washington carved out a 6-3 edge over the Giants in the season series, including a 3-2 record at home. The total has gone over in the last five games.
San Francisco at Washington Free MLB Picks and Betting Predictions
Most baseball experts will focus on the pitching matchup in this game given just how good each starter has looked down the stretch, but I am focusing on each team's bats to decide this one. I am not sure which team actually wins, but the Giants' lineup has already shown that it is ready for the postseason, and the well-rested Washington sluggers will also answer the call. I am going with a 4-Unit play of the over 6.5 runs to get my MLB postseason picks off to a strong start.
Regular Season Betting Record: 14-13-1 (+$486)
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