I am spending the entire MLB season exclusively handicapping the Washington Nationals and releasing free picks for select games with the use of Doc's Sports Unit Betting System to try and demonstrate the value of specialization when it comes to betting on baseball The ultimate goal to help prove the value in this betting strategy is to build a profitable bankroll with these unit plays.
Doc's continues to post these free picks for select Washington games on its homepage, so be sure to follow along to chart my progress. The Nationals have worked their way to the top of the NL East after a slow start, and I am looking to cash in on one of the hottest teams in the league.
Washington Nationals Free Picks, Odds and Predictions
Friday, May 29, 7:10 p.m. EST (Great American Ball Park)
Washington continues its current six-game swing through the Central Division with a trip to Cincinnati to face Reds in a three-game weekend set starting this Friday night. The first pitch from the Great American Ball Park is set for 7:10 p.m. (ET), and the game will be available on MLB Extra Innings.
The Nationals got a good jump on this trip by taking two of three from the Chicago Cubs earlier this week. This followed a 2-1 series win against Philadelphia at home last weekend. They have now won their last nine series dating back to the end of April. Washington currently leads the NL East by a game and a half over New York with a record of 28-19.
Cincinnati is already 11.5 games off the pace in the NL Central with an overall record of 19-27, and it has only been able to post one victory in its last 11 outings. This week they lost two of three to Colorado to fall below .500 at home with a record of 10-11. This will be their first go-round against Washington this season.
Washington at Cincinnati Betting Storylines
Everything has been clicking for Washington this past month after a shaky start to the season in April. The pitching staff is starting to resemble the one ended last season with the lowest ERA in the Majors. This season it is now ranked fifth in the National League with a team ERA of 3.53. The biggest reason for the recent success has been a lineup that now leads the league in runs scored with 219 through the first 47 games. Bryce Harper has been a force with a MLB-best 18 home runs and 43 RBI.
It will be Stephen Strasburg's turn in the rotation for Friday's series opener. The right-hander has been knocked around pretty good in his last three starts to fall to 3-5 through his first nine outings this year. His ERA now stands at an inflated 6.50 after allowing a total of 15 earned runs in those three games. Strasburg lasted only 3 2/3 innings in his last start against Philadelphia after getting shelled for five earned runs on seven hits.
The Reds have had some major issues in almost every phase of the game during their current slide. Over the past 11 outings, they have allowed an average of six runs a game. Offensively they have only managed to score a grand total of 29 runs, which explains why they have lost 10 of those matchups. Overall, Cincinnati has fallen to 13th in the NL in pitching with a 4.32 ERA, and their lineup is ranked 14th in scoring with an average of just 3.7 runs a game.
Look for Anthony DeSclafani to get the start for the Reds on Friday night. He will be making his 10th start of the season after going 2-4 in his first nine outings behind an ERA of 3.46. The right-hander is coming off a quality start against Cleveland in which he went a full seven innings and held the Indians to just one earned run on three hits. It was clearly his best effort since blanking both Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs over the course of 15 innings pitched in mid-April.
Washington at Cincinnati MLB Betting Odds and Key Trends
The Reds have lost five of their last six home games, and they are 0-9 in their last nine games against a right-handed starter. The total has gone "over" in five of their last seven games at home.
The road team in this matchup has won five of the last seven meetings, and the total has stayed under in the last four games. Washington has a slight 6-4 edge in the last 10 meetings.
Washington at Cincinnati Free MLB Picks and Betting Predictions
The Reds probably have the slight edge on the mound with Strasburg struggling, but I am looking for the Nationals' bats to stay hot on Friday night. Washington has done an excellent job gaining the early edge in a new series, and I am going with a 3-Unit play on the -1.5 (+115) runline that it draws first blood again with a victory by two runs or more.
3-Unit Play: Take Washington -1.5 (+115) over Cincinnati
YTD Record: 3-3 (-$72)
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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