Washington Nationals (-110, 7 o/u) at New York Yankees (+100)
The Washington Nationals (30-27, 14-15 Away) – co-favorites for the 2015 World Series – have suddenly gone ice cold. The deep squad has lost five of its last six games and eight its last ten. Making matters worse, the Nats now have to face the red-hot New York Yankees (32-25, 15-10 Home) in a three game set at Yankee Stadium. The first game goes tonight at 7:05 PM Eastern.
The Nats will look to ace (er, can you pick an ace from this ridiculous rotation?) Max Scherzer (6-4, 1.85 ERA) to get the team off the schneid, but the Yanks will counter with their own No. 1 pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka (3-1, 2.76 ERA), in what should be an epic pitchers’ duel.
Washington’s rough patch started against New York’s AL East rival Toronto as the Nats dropped the last two in a three-game series. They went on to lose three of four to Kris Bryant and the surging Cubs, including a 6-3 setback in the series finale on Sunday.
While Scherzer is usually automatic for a quality start, he struggled (by his standards) last time out, giving up six hits and four runs over six innings against the Blue Jays. The loss ended a five-start win-streak for the former Tiger.
“No matter what, you always have to flush it out and always look at the positives,” Scherzer said to the Associated Press after losing to the Jays. “You’re going to have things to work on even when you have good starts so this is just one game I got beat and you just go out there with the next mentality that you’re going to win the next one.”
The Yankees come into tonight winners of six in a row after sweeping both the Mariners and Angels. Tanaka won his last outing – his first star since returning from the DL – tossing seven innings and giving up just three hits and one run en route to a 3-1 victory over Seattle.
“There’s no inkling that [Tanaka’s] stuff wasn’t there,” New York manager Joe Girardi said to the Associated Press about his ace’s return to the lineup. “It was the highest velocity that we’ve seen from him, so that was good for us. It’s good to have him back.”
It’s always tempting to take Scherzer, who won the Cy Young in 2013 and led the AL in wins each of the last two seasons, but, in reality, he has mediocre numbers against New York. He is just 2-3 lifetime and, last time he faced the Yankees, gave up nine hits over seven innings and took the loss. Given that New York has the momentum and, arguably, an equally solid pitcher on the mound, the Yankees (+100) look like better value.
Pick: Yankees (+100).
(Photo credit: Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA (Lester vs. Tanaka) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)