The margin for error in Washington's bid for another NL East title is rapidly fading after a disastrous run through August that has the Nationals 5.5 games in back of New York in the division race. A ray of hope to make it back to the postseason for the third time in four seasons has been pinned on a current nine-game homestand that has gotten off to a solid start.
I have been handicapping the Nationals all season long and releasing a weekly free pick with the use of Doc's Sports Unit Betting System. The following is a preview and free pick for this Thursday night's series finale of a three-game home series against the NL West's San Diego Padres.
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Washington Nationals Free Picks, Odds and Predictions
Thursday, Aug. 27, 7:05 p.m. EST (Nationals Park)
Washington has already won three of the first four games in this extended homestand heading into Wednesday night's matchup against the Padres. Game 3 of this West Coast/East Coast matchup is set for 7:05 p.m. (ET) on Thursday night, and it will be available on MLB Extra Innings.
The Padres started this series with an 8-3 loss on Tuesday as +170 road underdogs. This followed Sunday's 10-3 loss to St. Louis as +138 underdogs at home. Prior to these two losses, San Diego actually reeled off five-straight wins. The total has now gone "over" in its last four games.
Washington took two of three from Milwaukee to kick off this nine-game stint at Nationals Park last weekend, but this followed a costly 2-7 run in its previous nine outings. It now 63-61 heading into Wednesday's matchup with a 34-24 record at home. The total has gone over in three of its last four games.
San Diego at Washington Betting Storylines
The Padres are now 7.5 games off the pace in the NL West following Tuesday's loss and well out of the running for a wild card spot in the NL playoffs, so they basically have no margin of error to keep their postseason hopes alive. There has to be some concern with the 41 runs allowed over San Diego's last six road games in which it went 2-4. The Padres' bats were clicking during that recent five-game winning streak at home with an average of 6.8 runs as opposed to a season average of 4.1 runs a game.
Andrew Cashner is slated to get the start in Thursday's series finale for the Padres. The right-hander won his last start by holding St. Louis to no earned runs on four hits over six innings of work. This was easily his best outing in quite some time after getting shelled for 14 earned runs over his previous four starts. On the year Cashner is 5-12 with a 4.03 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP in 24 starts.
The Nationals got a big night from Ryan Zimmerman on Tuesday with four RBIs as a result of a sixth-inning grand slam that blew a tight game wide open. Another positive takeaway from that win was the return of Denard Span to the lineup after he missed his last 40 games with back issues. Washington has now outscored their opponents 23-9 during its current three-game winning streak.
Look for Joe Ross to get the start on Thursday for the Nationals. The right-hander will be making his 11th start of the season, and he is 4-5 with a 3.56 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. He looked sharp his last time out by holding Milwaukee to just one earned run on six hits through seven innings pitched.
San Diego at Washington MLB Betting Odds and Key Trends
The Padres are just 7-19 in Game 3 of their last 26 series and 6-13 in their last 19 games played on Thursday. The total has gone over in 11 of their last 13 games on the road.
The Nationals are 1-6 in Game 3 of their last seven series, and they are 3-8 in their last 11 Thursday games. The total has gone over in nine of their last 11 games at home against a team with a losing record.
Washington has won the first four meetings this season, with the total going over in three of the games. It is 8-2 over the course of the last 10 meetings heading into Wednesday's matchup as a -151 home favorite.
San Diego at Washington Free MLB Picks and Betting Predictions
The Nationals have been a streaky hitting team all season long, and they should be able to keep this current upswing going with Cashner on the mound for San Diego. I have Washington getting the win on Thursday night, but my top pick is a 4-Unit play of the "over" 7.5 on the total line.
YTD Record: 8-11 (-$1052)
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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