Dodgers at Nationals Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 7/20/2013
If you would have told me back in the spring that this weekend's series in D.C. between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals was going to be a preview of the NLCS in October, I would have probably agreed.
The Nats were the preseason National League favorites and should have been. They won the most games in baseball last year. Bryce Harper was supposed to be an MVP favorite in his sophomore season. The Nationals spent money this offseason, signing free agent closer Rafael Soriano and adding outfielder Denard Span and pitcher Dan Haren to round out the rotation. They looked good.
The Dodgers, by most accounts, were supposed to be right there with Washington. They added the top free-agent starting pitcher this offseason in Zack Greinke plus were going to have full seasons of Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett. Matt Kemp was supposedly healthy. And we hadn't even heard of this Yaisel Puig guy much yet. Yeah, the Dodgers looked good.
So, yes, if you had told me that entering Friday's opener that the teams were a combined one-game over .500 with a combined minus -32 run differential, I would have laughed. I'm not sure Washington will catch the Braves in the NL East, but I could see a wild-card spot (sorry Pittsburgh). I do think the Dodgers will eventually win the weak West. So maybe we will see that NLCS matchup yet.
Dodgers at Nationals Betting Story Lines
The all-star break came at both an opportune and inopportune time for Los Angeles. The timing was bad because now the Dodgers are humming, having won 17 of their past 22 games entering Friday. I'm still not overly impressed because all but 17 wins came against the NL West. Yes, that allowed L.A. to gain division ground, but there are no great teams in there.
I say the timing was fortunate because the Dodgers were a bit banged up heading into the break. Puig was dealing with a hip injury. Nothing serious as he sat out just a game and pinch-hit in the pre-break finale Sunday, but the rest probably will do him some good as much physically as emotionally as he's the most talked-about player in the game right now. It's been a lot for a guy to digest who can't even speak English. He's hitting .391 with eight homers and 19 RBI (all stats entering Friday). But might he be coming back to earth? Puig is at .300 with a homer and three RBI in July. Also dealing with minor injuries were outfielder Carl Crawford and second baseman Mark Ellis, but they also should be fine now. Kemp remains on the DL but should be activated when eligible on Sunday.
As for the Nats, it's shocking they are just No. 26 in runs scored with the depth of that lineup. Harper missing 31 games didn't help matters, but that's not an excuse. The Nationals are 47-23 when they score more than one run. They’re 5-36 when they score two or fewer. Manager Davey Johnson has tried multiple lineups and, according to the Washington Times, may have found one Sunday he could stick with a while. In that one, Harper hits leadoff and Span drops to No. 7.
It should be a low-scoring affair on Saturday when Greinke faces lefty Gio Gonzalez.
Greinke (8-2, 3.49) appears to be finding his groove has he brings a 16-inning scoreless streak into this one. He totally overpowered Colorado in his final start before the break, striking out nine Rockies (one walk) and allowing just two hits in a complete game. Greinke faced Washington in L.A. on May 15, his first start off the DL following a broken collarbone, and allowed one run and five hits in 5.1 innings in 3-1 victory. Span has faced Greinke the most by far of any National, going 9-for-28 with four RBI. Adam LaRoche is 4-for-5 with a homer off Greinke Harper doesn't have an official at-bat against him.
Gonzalez (7-3, 3.03) started slow in April but has been fantastic since with a 2.18 ERA since May 1, looking like the Cy Young candidate he was a year ago. Gonzalez has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 11 of his past 13 starts. He has not faced L.A. this year and is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in one career start versus the Dodgers. No L.A. batter has seen him much. Ramirez is 0-for-6 with four strikeouts. Crawford is 1-for-7. Juan Uribe is 3-for-8 with a homer.
Dodgers at Nationals MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the Nationals opened at -133 and the Dodgers at +123 with a total of 7. All trends entering Friday: Los Angeles is 48-43-3 “over/under” (20-22-2 on road) and 47-47 on the runline. Washington is 45-45-5 O/U (23-19-3 at home) and 40-55 on the runline.
The Dodgers are 1-8 in their past nine road games against a lefty starter. L.A. is 4-1 in Greinke's past five starts against teams with a winning record. The Nats are 1-4 in their past five Game 2s of a series and 2-8 in their past 10 Saturday games. Washington is 7-0 in Gonzalez's past seven against the NL West. The over is 4-1 in Gonzalez's past five starts.
Dodgers at Nationals Picks and Betting Predictions
Los Angeles won two of three at home against Washington from May 13-15. You may remember that May 13 game as Harper crashed face first into the wall at Dodger Stadium and left bloodied. He really wasn't the same after that, and most believe that led to his lengthy DL stint later on. Harper is hitting just .196 in July, but maybe his solid showing at the Home Run Derby helps him. Puig wasn't in the majors yet for that first series.
I certainly like the under here. Still not convinced that L.A. is all the way back yet. Plus, the Dodgers are below .500 against lefties, and Washington is quite good at home. Take the Nationals to win but hedge with L.A. on the runline.
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