Pittsburgh Pirates (17-12) at Washington Nationals (13-16)
MLB Baseball: Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 7:05 PM ET (Nationals Park)
Pitchers: Chad Kuhl (3-1, 4.55 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (5-1, 1.62 ERA)
Line & Odds: Washington Nationals -245 / Pittsburgh Pirates +225 Over/Under: 7.5
FREE MLB PICK WASHINGTON NATIONALS VS. PITTSBURGH PIRATES
While it was practically assumed the Nationals would run away with the NL East title this season, the team has struggled early on. They come into this contest three games below .500, but this is largely due to injuries. Third baseman Anthony Rendon (toe) and center fielder Adam Eaton (ankle) are on the DL right now, and 2016 NL MVP runner up second baseman Daniel Murphy (knee) has yet to play in 2018. This isn’t to say the Nats haven’t had production offensively, though; they sit in third place in the NL in home runs (31) behind the Rockies and the Cardinals. Right fielder Bryce Harper has a slash line of .247/.458/.528, and he not only leads the team with eight home runs and 19 RBIs, but he leads the MLB with 38 walks (he’s on track for 212, which would be good for second most ever in a single season, behind Barry Bonds’s 232 in 2004). Young shortstop Trea Turner has proven his worth as a baserunner, as his 12 stolen bags rank second in the majors. Max Scherzer will start his seventh game of the season; he leads the MLB in wins, looks like he could rack up over 300 strikeouts this season and holds a sub-1.00 WHIP for the fourth year in a row.
After being swept by the Phillies and dropping the first game in their series against the Tigers last week, the Pirates have rebounded and won their last five in a row before their loss last night, beating the Tigers and then sweeping the Cardinals over the weekend. Their .260 team AVG ranks second in the NL due to high production up and down the lineup. Catcher Francisco Cervelli is well on his way to the best season of his career, as he leads the team in RBIs (20) and sports a .955 OPS. Center fielder Starling Marte is having a career year of his own, considering he’s on pace for well over 100 runs scored and nearly 50 stolen bases. Newly acquired 2017 All-Star left fielder Corey Dickerson isn’t putting up the power numbers he’s put up in recent years, but his current .313 AVG is 31 points higher than last year’s. The team is still looking for more production from first baseman Josh Bell and right fielder Gregory Polanco; even though they each have 16 RBIs, their combined AVG is a measly .216. The Bucs will put Chad Kuhl on the mound, whose 4.55 ERA is pretty consistent with his young career’s mark of 4.33.
Cover the Spread 365 MLB Betting Trends:
Total has gone UNDER in 7 of Washington’s last 9 games
1-6 ATS in last 7 games against Pittsburgh
6-13 in last 19 home games
3-12 SU in last 15 games at Nationals Park
11-5 ATS in last 16 road games
Total has gone UNDER in 6 of Pittsburgh’s last 8 games at Nationals Park
FREE MLB PREDICTION PITTSBURGH PIRATES VS. WASHINGTON NATIONALS
The Pirates strung together five straight wins coming into the series, and the Nationals have stumbled through the first month of the season, but I’m going to take Washington at home in this game. The Nats will put arguably the best pitcher in baseball on the mound, and it’s near impossible to reasonably pick the three-time Cy Young winner to lose. The middle of the Pirates’ lineup hasn’t had trouble producing thus far, but they also haven’t faced Scherzer yet. Washington will need to provide some run support, but as long as they score at least three or four, they will almost definitely take home a victory.
Pick: Washington -245