Specialization when it comes to wagering on MLB games can be a viable betting strategy, and to help demonstrate this point I'm focusing all my energy this season on handicapping the Washington Nationals. I will also be releasing weekly picks for their games with the use of Doc's Sports Unit Betting System. My goal for the season is to return a solid profit on these unit plays.
Doc's will be posting my free picks for these select Washington games on its homepage, so be sure to follow along all season long to chart my progress. The Nationals continue to turn things around following a slow start out of the gate, and the opportunity to cash in on one of the top teams in the National League is turning around as well.
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Washington Nationals Free Picks, Odds and Predictions
Friday, May 8, 7:05 p.m. EST (Nationals Park)
The Nationals continue their current six-game homestand this Friday night with Game 1 of a three-game weekend series against the NL East rival Atlanta Braves with both teams looking to make up some ground on New York in the standings. The first pitch from Nationals Park is set for 7:05 p.m. (ET), and the game will be available on MLB Extra Innings.
Atlanta wrapped up its recent 10-game homestand by taking two out of three from Philadelphia earlier this week after splitting an extended four-game weekend series against Cincinnati. It's now an even 14-14 on the year and four games in back of the Mets in the NL East standings. The Braves are also an even 6-6 on the road this season, and overall the total has gone "over" the total in three of their last five contests.
Washington is finally gaining some traction after a slow start out of the gate with a 7-3 record in its last 10 games. It closed out this week's 2-1 series win against Miami with a 7-5 victory over the Marlins on Wednesday as a heavy -190 home favorite. The Nationals are now 14-15 overall with a 7-6 record at home. The total went over in two of the three games against Miami.
Atlanta at Washington Betting Storylines
The Braves dropped two of three games to Washington to kick off their recent stint at home while getting outscored 30-20 in three high-scoring games. Atlanta has done a good job scoring runs all season long with an average of 4.5 a game that is ranked third in the National League. Its pitching staff has not fared nearly as well with a staff ERA of 4.11, which is well down the list in this league.
Look for Eric Stults to get the start for the Braves in Friday's opener. The left-hander is 1-2 through his first five outings with a 4.91 ERA. He faced the Nationals on April 27 and allowed two earned runs on four hits while going 6 1/3 innings to get the win. Stults went on to get shelled by Cincinnati in his last start by giving up six earned runs on 11 hits in a full seven innings of work.
Washington's vaunted pitching staff is finally starting to come around after an unexpected slow start. Through Wednesday's games, it is fifth in the NL with a team ERA of 3.42. The Nationals lineup has also turned things around at the plate with an average of 5.3 runs over their last 10 games. They have to be thrilled with Bryce Harper's three-home run performance in Wednesday's win. He is finally starting to play to his high expectations as the team's leader in both home runs (8) and RBIs (20).
The Nationals will go with Gio Gonzalez as their starter for this game. This left-hander brings a 2-2 record into Friday's matchup through his first five starts. His ERA stands at 3.86 with a 1.58 WHIP after pitching a seven-inning shutout against the New York Mets his last time out. This followed a rough outing against Miami on April 26 in which he allowed six earned runs on 10 hits in just five innings of work.
Atlanta at Washington MLB Betting Odds and Key Trends
BetOnline has listed the Nationals as -185 home favorites for Friday night's series opener against the division rival Braves as +175 underdogs on the road. The total for this game has been set at 7.5.
The Braves are 4-10 in their last 14 division games, and they are 1-4 in Game 1 of their last five series. The total has gone over in 12 of their last 16 games following a SU win.
The Nationals are 22-7 in Gonzalez's last 29 starts in Game 1 of a new series, and they are 24-10 in their last 34 games following a day off. The total has gone over in five of their last seven series openers.
Atlanta is 1-4 in its last five road games against Washington, but it has won the last eight meetings when Gonzalez gets the start. The total went over in the first three meetings this season.
Atlanta at Washington Free MLB Picks and Betting Predictions
Gonzalez has had his issues against the Braves in the past, but he does have a solid record when starting off a new series. What I really like about the Nationals chances to draw first blood against their division rivals on Friday night is their newfound ability at getting runners across the plate. Given the prohibitively high moneyline on Washington, I am going with a 3-Unit play on the run line on the Nationals at +115 betting odds.
3-Unit Play: Take the run line on Washington -1.5 (+115) over Atlanta
YTD Record: 1-2 (-$387)
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