The Nationals have been patiently waiting for the return of a trio of bats from the DL to help jump start a sputtering lineup, and they may have finally gotten a glimpse of what the future might hold in Tuesday's 5-4 victory against Arizona as -180 home favorites.
The trio of Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon and Jason Werth combined for three hits, three runs and two RBI to help pace Tuesday's win. It was the first time in Washington's last six games that it scored more than four runs.
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I have been handicapping the Nationals all season long, and with the use of Doc's Sports Unit Betting System, I have also been releasing my free picks for select games. The following is a preview and free pick for Thursday's series finale against the Diamondbacks at Nationals Park.
Washington Nationals Free Picks, Odds and Predictions
Thursday, Aug. 6, 4:05 p.m. EST (Nationals Park)
Washington will get an early start this Thursday in the series finale of this week's four-game home set against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Game time is set for 4:05 p.m. (ET), and it will be available on MLB Extra Innings.
Arizona drew first blood in this series with Monday's 6-4 victory as a +109 road underdog. It closed as a +170 underdog in Tuesday's loss, with the total going "over" in both of these games. The Diamondbacks are now 8-4 in their last 12 games, and the total has gone over in six of their last seven outings.
Despite Tuesday's win, the Nationals could not pick up any ground on the surging New York Mets in the NL East title race. In light of this past weekend's three-game sweep on the road at the hands of their division rivals and a 1-1 start in this series, they are currently a game back of the Mets in the standings at 55-50 on the year heading into Wednesday's Game 3. The total had stayed "under" in five of their previous seven games before welcoming Arizona to town.
Arizona at Washington Betting Storylines
The Diamondbacks have been able to keep their slim playoff hopes alive with an even 9-9 record since the all-star break, but the chances of this team actually making it into the postseason would require a pretty dramatic run from here on in. You cannot place all that much blame on this lineup for their overall 51-54 record with the third-most runs in the National League. They have exceeded their 4.4 scoring average in four of their last seven games.
Pitching has been a whole other story for Arizona with a staff ERA of 4.08. It will send Jeremy Hellickson to the mound as the starter for Thursday's game. The right-hander is an even 7-7 on the year through 20 previous starts with a 4.95 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. He got blasted by Houston on the road his last time out by allowing six earned runs on seven hits in just 3 1/3 innings. Three of those seven hits went out of the park for home runs.
Washington is now as healthy as it has been all season long, which bodes well for the highly-anticipated battle with New York down the stretch run of the regular season for the NL East title. Overall, when this lineup is clicking on all cylinders it can be one of the most productive scoring machines in the NL. Even with all the injuries and inconsistencies this season, it is still ranked fifth in scoring with an average of 4.1 runs a game.
The Nationals pitching staff is also ranked in the top half of the league with a team ERA of 3.60, but they are going to need a better overall effort in this department as well for a successful postseason push. Washington will turn to Joe Ross as its starter to close this series out with a win. This will be his seventh start of the season, and through his first six outings the right-hander has posted a very respectable 3.00 ERA and a solid 0.92 WHIP.
Arizona at Washington MLB Betting Odds and Key Trends
BetOnline has opened Washington as a -137 home favorite for Thursday's series finale, while the betting odds for the Diamondbacks have been set at +137 as road underdogs. The total for the game has been set at 8.
The Diamondbacks are 6-2 in their last eight games against a right-handed starter, but they are just 1-4 in Hellickson's last five starts on the road. The total has gone over in seven of their last eight road games.
The Nationals are 19-7 in Game 4 of their last 26 series and they are 13-6 in their last 19 games at home. The total has gone over in four of their last five home games.
Arizona's win on Monday was its first in its last six road games against Washington. The total has now gone over in the last five meetings
Arizona at Washington Free MLB Picks and Betting Predictions
The Nationals bats finally showed some signs of life and, with Hellickson on the mound for Arizona, this lineup has a good opportunity to do some more damage on Thursday afternoon. I also like the fact that the total has gone over in seven of umpire Tripp Gibson's last 10 called games behind home plate, so I am going with a 3-Unit play on the over in this game as well.
3-Unit Play: Take Arizona at Washington OVER 8
YTD Record: 7-9 (-$674)
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