For the second season in a row, I will be exclusively handicapping the Washington Nationals in an effort to demonstrate that specialization on a single team when it comes to wagering on MLB games can be a viable betting strategy. Doc's Sports has asked me to put this theory to the test by releasing free weekly picks for Nationals' games with the use of its Unit Betting System. The goal for the season is to return a solid profit on these unit plays.
Doc's will be posting my free Washington picks on its homepage, so be sure to follow along with my progress all season long. The Nationals remain one of the top teams in the majors, so there should be plenty of opportunity to cash in on their success all year long.
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Washington Nationals Free Picks, Odds and Predictions
Thursday, April 23, 4:05 p.m. EST (Nationals Park)
Washington closes out a three-game set at home this Thursday afternoon against the NL Central's St. Louis Cardinals. The first pitch from National Park is set for 4:05 p.m., and the game will be available on MLB Extra Innings.
The Cardinals dropped the first game of this series 2-1 on Tuesday night as slight +104 road underdogs after winning their previous five contests, including a three-game sweep of Cincinnati this past weekend. They are now 8-4 on the year with the total staying "under" in five of their last six games.
Washington has battled through a slow start to finally gain some traction with five victories in its last six games. Most of that success came against Philadelphia with a 3-1 series win leading into the current series against St. Louis. Tuesday's win evened the Nationals record on the year to 7-7, and they are four games behind surprising New York in the NL East. The total has stayed under in their last two games.
St. Louis at Washington Betting Storylines
Most of the Cardinals' early wins have revolved around a superior effort from a pitching staff that is ranked first in the majors with a 1.90 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .208 against this staff, and the starting rotation is tied for second in quality starts with 10. The only reason why St. Louis has not won even more games is a lineup that has been lacking consistency at the plate. The Cardinals are averaging 3.7 runs per game, which is ranked near the bottom of the NL. They fall to eighth in slugging percentage (.370) and 12th in RBI.
Look for Michael Wacha to get the start for St. Louis this Thursday afternoon. The right-hander will be making his third start of the season, and so far he has been rock-solid with a 1.35 ERA through 13 1/3 innings of work. His last time out against Cincinnati, Wacha went a full seven innings and allowed just one earned run on five hits. He has gotten the win in both starts.
It took Washington's vaunted pitching staff a bit of time to find its form, but after fighting through a very slow start it is back near the top of NL, but behind St. Louis, with a staff ERA of 2.80. Even better news for the Nationals is a lineup that is starting to finally put the ball in play on a regular basis. Even with just two runs in Tuesday's win, the Nationals have averaged 5.3 runs over their last eight outings to raise their season average to 3.9 runs a game.
Max Scherzer will be making his fourth start as one of the newest members of the Nationals' rotation. While his season debut was forgettable, the right-hander has found his form in his last two starts by allowing just two earned runs on 10 hits in 14 innings pitched. You might have to put an asterisk on those numbers since both games were against Philadelphia, but nonetheless Scherzer still looked sharp.
St. Louis at Washington MLB Betting Odds and Key Trends
BetOnline has opened the Nationals as -151 home favorites for Thursday night's series finale with St. Louis listed as a +141 underdog on the road. The total for this game has been set at 6.5.
The Cardinals are just 3-9 in Wacha's last 12 starts on the road, but they are 4-1 in his last five starts in Game 3 of a series. The total has stayed under in six of their last seven games played on Thursday.
The Nationals are now 5-0 in their last five games against a team from the NL Central following Tuesday's win, and they are 7-2 in their last nine games played on a Thursday. The total has stayed under in 10 of their last 13 home games against a right-handed starter.
St. Louis at Washington Free MLB Picks and Betting Predictions
This game has all the makings of a classic pitcher's duel with two hot starters on the mound and very deep bullpens on both sides of the field. Given just how close these two teams match up against one another, I am going to make a small 2-Unit play on a very favorable moneyline for the Cardinals.
2-Unit Play: Take St. Louis (+141) over Washington
YTD Record: 0-1 (-$330)
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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