Specialization on a single team when it comes to wagering on MLB games can be a viable betting strategy. For the second season in a row, Doc's Sports has asked me to put this theory to the test by focusing all my handicapping efforts on the Washington Nationals. I will also be releasing free weekly picks for their games with the use of Doc's Unit Betting System. My ultimate goal is to return a solid profit on these unit plays over the course of the MLB season.
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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 this year.
Washington Nationals Free Picks, Odds and Predictions
Thursday, April 16, 7:05 p.m. EST (Nationals Park)
Washington welcomes Philadelphia to town this Thursday for an early start of an extended four-game weekend series at Nationals Park. This series opener is set to get underway at 7:05 p.m. (ET), and the game will be available on MLB Extra Innings.
The Phillies drew first blood in the season series against Washington by taking two of three at home this past weekend. They started the season by dropping two of three to Boston in an interleague matchup, and they have already lost the first two games of this week's three-game series against the New York Mets to fall to 3-5 through their first eight games. The total has gone "over" in their last two games.
Washington's unexpected slow start continued with Tuesday's 8-7 loss to the Red Sox as a +117 road underdog in Game 2 of this three-game interleague clash. The Nationals are now just 2-6 out of the gate in their first eight games. The total went "over" a total line of 8 in Tuesday's loss after staying under in four of the Nationals' first seven games.
Philadelphia at Washington Betting Storylines
The Phillies came into the new season with not only the longest odds on the board to win their division but with the longest odds of any team in the National League to win a pennant. The fact that they have actually won three of their first eight games has to offer some signs of encouragement, but fundamentally this is still a pretty bad team.
Philadelphia has quickly fallen to last in the NL in scoring with just 21 runs on the year, and its .215 batting average is ranked 13th in this league. The one ray of hope heading into this series opener is that Cole Hamels will be getting the start. The left-hander did get off to a rocky start in his season opener against Boston by getting rocked for four earned runs on five hits, but he bounced back to pitch a gem against Washington last Saturday. In seven full innings of work, he allowed just one earned run on two hits.
The Nationals' dismal start has been fueled by a poor performance in almost every phase of the game. Forget the fact that the majors' top pitching staff from a year ago has posted a 3.45 team ERA so far; its power lineup is ranked dead last in the NL in hitting with a team batting average of just .197 through 269 at-bats.
This series could be a golden opportunity to start turning things around with four shots at the worst team in the league at home, but it's going to have to start with another solid effort from Thursday night's starter, Doug Fister. The right-hander was on the losing end of last Saturday's pitching duel against Hamels, but it would be hard to pin the blame on him after shutting the Phillies down with no runs on six hits through 6 1/3 innings pitched.
Philadelphia at Washington MLB Betting Odds and Key Trends
BetOnline has opened the Nationals as -134 home favorites for Thursday night's series opener with Philadelphia listed as +124 underdogs on the road. The total for this game has been set at 7.
The Phillies are 6-2 in Hamel's last eight starts in Game 1 of a new series, but they are just 2-5 overall in their last seven series openers. The total has stayed under in six of their last eight opening games of a series.
The Nationals are 56-26 in their last 82 games against a left-handed starter, but they have lost Game 1 of their last four series dating back to last season. The total has stayed under in six of their last seven home games.
Philadelphia's recent 2-1 series win raised its record to 7-2 in the last nine meetings, and the total has now stayed under in four of the last five games.
Philadelphia at Washington Free MLB Picks and Betting Predictions
Philly coming to town could be just what the doctor ordered to get the Nationals a few much-needed wins, but right now my confidence level in Washington against this moneyline for Thursday's opener remains pretty low. What I do like is a 3-Unit play on the under in this matchup. You have two quality starters on the mound facing lineups that have major trouble generating runs.
3-Unit Play: Take Philadelphia at Washington UNDER 6.5
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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