Baseball Predictions: Nationals at Phillies Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 9/2/2013
What a difference a calendar year makes for Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals. On Sept. 2, 2012, the Nats took to the field with the best winning percentage in Major League Baseball, and all the talk was about when the team was going to institute Operation Shutdown for young ace Strasburg. Of course, he was on an innings limit a season ago -- much like Matt Harvey would have been this year before getting hurt and like Marlins rookie star Jose Fernandez is -- off Tommy John surgery. Strasburg beat the Cardinals that Sept. 2 night, shutting them out over six innings and striking out nine. It would turn out to be the penultimate start of his season, and now it looks like a disaster for Washington to have made that decision. The Nats lost in the NLDS to St. Louis, blowing a Game 5 that could have seen Strasburg start. This year has been an abject failure, and who knows when Washington will be in such a good position again (ask the 2003 Chicago Cubs). It's why everyone should live in the moment.
The Phillies, meanwhile, will miss the playoffs for the second straight year after winning five straight division titles prior to that. They seem a lock to finish with their first losing record since 2002. I do think that they have played well enough under interim manager Ryne Sandberg that the Hall of Famer will get the full-time gig this offseason. The former Cubs legend had an emotional return to Wrigley over the weekend. Sandberg joined Rogers Hornsby as the only Cubs Hall of Famers who managed against their former team after being inducted to Cooperstown.
Nationals at Phillies Betting Story Lines
Why the Phillies didn't trade Chase Utley at the July 31 deadline and instead signed him to a two-year extension baffles me. This team's window has slammed shut, and it's time to get younger. Utley is still a solid player, hitting .269 with 16 home runs entering Sunday, but he can't stay healthy and will be 35 in December. You'd think the Phillies would have learned after giving huge deals to Ryan Howard (Top 5 worst deal ever), Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. None have been worth it.
At least the Phillies got a little something for Michael Young. He was traded just a few minutes before the Aug. 31 deadline to allow players on a postseason roster. The Phils got a pitching prospect from the Dodgers for Young, who makes L.A. even better as a backup infielder/super-utility player. He is batting .272 with eight home runs and 41 RBI this season and has plenty of playoff experience. In another minor deal, the Phillies shipped all-glove, no-hit backup shortstop John McDonald to the Red Sox.
Hamels (6-13, 3.58) gets the call on Monday, one of only two night games on the Labor Day holiday. He started the season slowly but was 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in August. He has allowed more than three earned runs just once in his past 10 starts. He faced the Nats on July 9 in Philly and allowed one run and six hits over eight innings in one of his best starts of the year. He is 1-1 with a 2.51 ERA in two starts this year against Washington. Expect reserve Nats outfielder Scott Hairston in the lineup. He's hitting .412 with five homers and nine RBI in 34 career at-bats off Hamels. Adam LaRoche is at .323 with four homers and seven RBI in 31 at-bats. Bryce Harper is hitting .316 off Hamels but hasn't homered.
Strasburg (6-9, 2.96) lasted only two innings last time out, but that was because of a rain delay. The Nats pondered throwing him Sunday but decided to wait. Washington has won the past four times Strasburg has taken the mound. He last faced the Phillies on Aug. 11 in one of his best starts of his career. In fact, it probably was. He threw his first complete-game shutout, striking out 10. The Phillies never had a runner in scoring position -- that was when the Phils were in a tailspin and not long before Charlie Manuel was fired.
Strasburg almost assuredly won't have to deal with Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown, now the team's best hitter. His sore Achilles' tendon is acting up again, and he will have tests done on Monday when the team returns from Chicago. He maybe can pinch-hit. Brown hadn't had much success against Strasburg, going 1-for-6 with three strikeouts. No Phillie has had much success against him. Jimmy Rollins is 2-for-16 with six strikeouts. Carlos Ruiz has a homer in six at-bats. Maybe Kevin Frandsen gets a start. He's 3-for-7 with a homer off Strasburg.
Nationals at Phillies MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, Washington opened at -106 and Philadelphia -104 with a total of 6.5. All trends entering Sunday: The Nationals are 65-64-6 “over/under” (31-32-2 on the road) and 57-78 on the runline. The Phillies are 69-62-6 O/U (34-28-4 at home) and 59-77 on the runline.
The Nats are 4-0 in their past four on the road against a lefty starter. They are 0-4 in their past four Monday games. Washington is also 0-4 in Strasburg's past four series openers. The Phillies have won four straight series openers. They are 3-12 in their past 15 against the NL East. Philadelphia is 5-1 in Hamels' past six against teams with a winning record. It is just 2-8 in his past 10 series openers. The over is 5-0 in Washington's past five on the road. The under is 7-0-1 in Hamels' past eight at home. The Phillies are 8-1 in Hamels' past nine at home against Washington. The Nats are 4-1 in Strasburg's past five vs. the Phillies.
Baseball Predictions: Nationals at Phillies Betting Picks
The Nats lead the season series 7-6 and swept three at home last time they met. Washington has played decent on the road of late, taking series against the Cubs and Royals. Plus, the Nats still think they have wild-card hopes. Also hard to resist getting Strasburg almost as an underdog (he might be by game time), even as well as Hamels is pitching. Washington and the under it is.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews