Baseball Picks: Phillies at Nationals Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 9/14/2013
No division has ever had three teams make the playoffs -- it wasn't even possible until last year's addition of the second wild-card spot. It seemed like a lock that the National League Central would be the first with St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. And it's still pretty likely. However, the Washington Nationals are finally starting to play to expectations and are just 5.5 games back of the second wild card currently held by the Reds entering this weekend's series in Philadelphia.
The Nats have 16 games left entering Friday, and the Reds 15. Realistically, the Nationals probably have to win 13 of those and hope the Reds go 7-8. That would result in a tie. The 2011 season showed us anything is possible down the stretch, but it's definitely a long shot. After facing the Phillies for three, the Nats host the Braves for three and the Marlins for four. Atlanta likely will have clinched the NL East by then but still would have motivation to keep the No. 1 seed in the National League. The Nats then finish on the road at St. Louis and Arizona. The Reds started a nine-game road trip on Friday in Milwaukee, followed by Houston and Pittsburgh. Then Cincinnati closes at home against the Mets and Pirates. I really don't see eight losses in there.
As for the Phillies, they are just playing out the string and perhaps to give ownership a reason to keep interim manager Ryne Sandberg as the full-time manager. I've said this previously, but I think he gets the gig. The only way he might not is if the Angels fire Mike Scioscia, who has quite a resume and strong Philadelphia roots. Then again, GM Ruben Amaro might not want Scioscia, who wields a ton of power with the Halos. Sandberg wouldn't have that type of clout.
Phillies at Nationals Betting Story Lines
Washington enters on a six-game winning streak and with just two losses this month. It really started to turn things around with a home sweep of these Phillies from Aug. 9-11. Including that series, the Nats have won 23 of their past 32 games. Where was this all season? Former Phillie Jayson Werth is hugely overpaid but having a great season, batting .324 with 23 home runs and 71 RBI. He's second in the NL in slugging and first in OPS. If he hadn't missed a chunk of the year injured, he'd be in the MVP conversation. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman also is overpaid but on a tear, hitting six home runs in the past seven days. Zimmerman has eight home runs in his last 10 games after hitting 15 in his first 122. The Nats out-homered the Mets 13-0 in just completing a four-game sweep. It was by far the most any opposing team has hit in a series at Citi field. Denard Span entered Friday with a 23-game hitting streak, the longest current hitting streak in the majors.
Washington looks to continue rolling on Saturday behind lefty Gio Gonzalez. He was filthy on Monday against the Mets, taking a no-hitter into the seventh and finishing with a complete-game one-hitter, striking out eight. The Nats have won his past five starts. One of those was Sept. 3 in Philadelphia when Gonzalez allowed five runs, but just one earned, in 5.2 innings. He's 2-0 with a 1.83 ERA in three starts against Philadelphia in 2013. Carlos Ruiz, who has been red-hot at the plate, is 2-for-7 off Gonzalez this year. Darin Ruf is the only Phillie with a homer off Gonzalez this season.
Philadelphia counters with lefty Cole Hamels (7-13, 3.45). He has returned to form with nine straight quality starts, and the Phillies have won his past six. He dominated the Nationals on Sept. 2, holding them to two hits and a run in seven innings. Hamels is 1-1 with a 2.11 ERA in three starts versus the Nats this year. Werth is 1-for-7 off Hamels in 2013 with a homer. Zimmerman is 2-for-10 with a home run. You know which National has had the most success overall against Hamels? Pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who started Friday's opener, is 2-for-4 with a double. I don't think he'll be pinch-hitting.
Phillies at Nationals MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the Nationals are -141 and the Phillies +131 with a total of 7. All trends entering Friday: Philadelphia is 73-68-5 “over/under” (35-35-1 on road) and 65-81 on the runline. Washington is 73-67-6 O/U (35-32-4 at home) and 64-82 on the runline.
The Phillies are 4-0 in their past four against lefty starters. They are 1-8 in their past nine road games against teams with a winning record. The Phils are 5-0 in Hamels' past five against teams with a winning record. They are 2-0 in his past 12 starts with five days of rest. Washington is 9-1 in its past 10 Game 2s. It is 5-1 in its past six against lefty starters. The Nats are 2-5 in Gonzalez's past seven Saturday starts. They are 1-4 in his past five Game 2 starts. The under is 6-0-1 in Hamels' past seven against teams with a winning record. The over is 4-0 in Gonzalez's past four. The over is 4-1 in Hamels' past five in Washington.
Baseball Picks: Phillies at Nationals Betting Predictions
Tough going against Hamels here, but the Nats have won five of their past six against the Phillies and are clearly playing good baseball in desperation of one final push. Take Washington and the under.
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