Specialization on just one team when wagering on MLB games can be a viable betting strategy, and to put this theory to the test I will continue to exclusively handicap the Washington Nationals all season long. I will also be putting some money behind my efforts with free picks for select Washington games with the use of Doc's Sports Unit Betting System. The ultimate goal is to build a profitable MLB bankroll with these unit plays.
Doc's continues to post these free MLB picks on its homepage, so be sure to follow along to chart my progress. The Nationals find themselves in a heated three-team battle for the lead in the NL East, and I am trying to turn around a slow start handicapping their games.
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Washington Nationals Free Picks, Odds and Predictions
Friday, June 19, 7:05 p.m. EST (Nationals Park)
Washington continues its current eight-game homestand with a three-game weekend series against the NL Central's Pittsburgh Pirates. Game 1 of this series is set for Friday night with a 7:05 p.m. (ET) start at Nationals Park, and it will be available on MLB Extra Innings.
The Pirates will be trying to extend their current winning streak to nine games after pulling off a sweep of the Chicago White Sox in this week's four-game interleague home-and-home series. Pittsburgh's impressive run now has it four games off the pace behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central Division race with an overall record of 39-27.
Washington ended up losing three of four games against Tampa Bay this week following Thursday's 5-3 loss in Game 4 as a slight +103 underdog at home. This past weekend, the Nationals had to battle their way to a 2-2 split against Milwaukee on the road, and, going back to the start of June, they have really struggled with consistency with a record of just 6-11.
Pittsburgh at Washington Betting Storylines
The Pirates have been able to reel off eight straight victories behind a pitching staff that is really starting to find its form. It is ranked second in the National League with an ERA of 2.72, and during this run Pittsburgh has outscored its opponents by a combined score of 28-7. Even more impressive is that five of these victories were shutouts. The Pirates' lineup is ranked eighth in the NL in runs scored with an average of 4.1 a game.
Look for AJ Burnett to get the start for Pittsburgh on Friday night. The right-hander is 6-2 this season with a stellar ERA of 1.89 and a 1.13 WHIP. He will be making his 14th start of the season, and in his last outing he pitched a complete game by shutting out Philadelphia on just five hits. He has not allowed more than two earned runs in 11 of his first 13 starts.
Washington is ranked second in the NL in scoring with an average of 4.4 runs a game, but it has been hit or miss in its last seven games. In three victories, it knocked-in a total of 27 runs, but in four losses this total dropped to just eight runs. Bryce Harper has had a monster season so far with 75 hits, 22 home runs and 53 RBI, but he is listed as doubtful for Friday night after straining his hamstring early in Thursday's loss.
The Nationals have decided to insert Joe Ross into the rotation for Friday night. This right-hander will be making his third start of the season and he is coming off a quality outing against Milwaukee on June 13 in which he went eight full innings while allowing two earned runs on seven hits to pick up his first win of the year. This effort lowered his ERA on the year to 3.46 after getting banged around a bit by the Cubs in his MLB debut.
Pittsburgh at Washington MLB Betting Odds and Key Trends
BetOnline has listed the Nationals as +105 home underdogs for Friday night's series opener with the Pirates set as -125 favorites on the road. The betting odds for the total have been set at 7.5.
The Pirates are 7-1 in their last eight road games, and they have won the first game in seven of their last eight series. The total has stayed under in their last four games against the NL East.
The Nationals are 3-8 in their last 11 games against the NL Central, and they have lost the first game of their last four series. The total has stayed under in seven of their last nine home games against a team with a winning record.
The home team in this matchup has won seven of the last eight meetings, and the total has gone 2-2-3 in the last seven games. Washington went 3-1 in four home games against Pittsburgh last season.
Pittsburgh at Washington Free MLB Picks and Betting Predictions
The Nationals will have to face one of the hottest pitchers in the National League on Friday night without the services of Harper, and the oddsmakers have responded accordingly by setting the total line at 7.5. Given the current betting trends in this matchup, I still believe this will be still high enough for a 3-Unit play on the "under" in this game.
3-Unit Play: Take Pittsburgh at Washington UNDER 7
YTD Record: 3-6 (-$894)
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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