All season long I have been exclusively handicapping the Washington Nationals in an effort to show that specialization when it comes to betting on MLB games can be a viable strategy. I have also been backing this up with free weekly picks for selective games with the use of Doc's Sports Unit Betting System. The ultimate goal of this exercise is to build a profitable MLB bankroll by hitting these unit plays.
Doc's has been posting these free MLB picks on its homepage, so you can follow along to chart my progress. The Nationals continue to lead the way in a heated three-team battle for the top spot in the NL East, and I am slowing working my way back to profitability after a very trying start with these free picks.
Washington Nationals Free Picks, Odds and Predictions
Friday, July 3, 6 p.m. EST (Nationals Park)
Washington will play host to the NL West's San Francisco Giants this 4th of July Holiday with a three-game series at Nationals Park starting this Friday night. Game 1 of this highly-anticipated West vs. East showdown is set to get underway at 6 p.m. (ET), and it will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
The Giants will try and avoid a sweep at the hands of Miami this Thursday on the road after losing the first two games by a combined score of 11-8. Both contests went "over" the total line, and the total has now gone over in their last six games. San Francisco has been solid on the road with a record of 21-17 and the total has gone 6-2-1 in its last nine road games.
Washington is back on track with a 9-2 record in its last 11 games heading into Thursday's series finale against Atlanta. The Nationals did lose to the Braves 4-1 on Wednesday night as a -137 road favorite, but they return home with a current six-game winning streak in the friendly confines of Nationals Park. The total has gone over in three of their last five games overall.
San Francisco at Washington Betting Storylines
San Francisco has been able to stay neck-and-neck with Los Angeles in the NL West Division race behind a solid lineup that is averaging 4.3 runs a game. This average has exploded to 6.6 runs over the Giants' last seven games even though they came up on the losing end in three of those contests. Their pitching staff is currently ranked seventh in the National League with a team ERA of 3.85. Over the same seven games, San Francisco has allowed an average of five runs to its opponents.
Jake Peavy will make his much-anticipated return to the starting rotation on Friday night. This will be the right-hander's third start of the season after spending a good bit of time on the DL. He was rocked around in his only two starts this year, and in just 7 2/3 innings he allowed a total of eight earned runs on 12 hits to post an inflated 9.39 ERA and a 2.09 WHIP.
The Nationals have been a hot and cold team all season long, but their current winning run has extended their lead over New York in the division to 3.5 games behind a record of 43-35. Prior to being held to just one run in Wednesday's loss, this lineup had pounded out an average of five runs in its previous 10 games. Overall, Washington is ranked third in the NL in scoring with 4.4 runs a game, and the biggest bat belongs to Bryce Harper with 58 RBI and 24 home runs.
The vaunted Nationals' pitching staff has had its issues at times this season with a team ERA of 3.68. They will go with Gio Gonzalez as their starter for Friday. The left-hander is 5-4 on the year through 14 previous starts and his ERA stands at 4.41 with a 1.49 WHIP. He was rock-solid his last time out in a victory against Pittsburgh by shutting out the Pirates on just four hits in seven innings pitched.
San Francisco at Washington MLB Betting Odds and Key Trends
The Giants have lost Game 1 in five of their last six series, and they are 0-4 in Peavy's last four road starts. The total has gone over in their last four games against the NL East.
The Nationals have now won the first game in their last four series, and they are 7-2 in their last nine games against a right-handed starter. The total has gone over in six of their last seven games against a team from the NL West.
This will be the first meeting since last season's NLDS in which San Francisco came away with the 3-1 series victory. Going back over the last 10 meetings, the series is tied 5-5 with the road team holding a slight 6-4 edge. The total stayed under in all four playoff games after going over in the previous five matchups in the regular season.
San Francisco at Washington Free MLB Picks and Betting Predictions
Peavy is a definite wildcard in this matchup after so much time off, and Gonzalez has been inconsistent all season, which tends to discount his last start. I like the Nationals to stay hot with a win at home in this series opener, but I am going with a 4-Unit play on the over as my top bet in this game.
YTD Record: 5-6 (-$294)
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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