Looks to be a mismatch on Tuesday night from Pittsburgh when the Washington Nationals make their first visit of the season. The Nats have baseball’s best record, while the Pirates are last in the NL Central. For the Nationals, they had a good weekend series against the Philadelphia Phillies, ending the series at 2-1. The Pirates had a pretty good weekend series as well against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 4 games series ended at 2-2. Washington will be solidly favored in the MLB odds for Tuesday’s series opener.
Washington at Pittsburgh MLB Betting Analysis & Preview
RECAP: The One With Scherzer’s Immaculate Inning.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 15, 2017
When: Tuesday, May 16, 7:05 PM ET
Where: PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Probable pitchers (away/home): Stephen Strasburg/Chad Kuhl
TV: MLB Extra Innings
Radio: Washington / Pittsburgh
Opening MLB Lines: Nationals favored by TBA
Why Bet On Washington?
Washington (24-13) enters having won three of four after splitting a doubleheader Sunday vs. the Phillies; a DH was necessary because the teams had Friday’s game rained out. Michael Taylor hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth of Game 2 for the split. Bryce Harper went 3 for 4, doubled and drove in two runs in Game 2. He also belted his 12th home run in Game 1, but Philadelphia won 4-3 after Washington’s third blown save in six games. That’s been Washington’s one issue this year: the bullpen.
After watching his bullpen blow a two-run lead in the early game, Manager Dusty Baker said he’s open to getting outside help.
“You’re always pushing for a trade, but there ain’t nobody trading right now,” Baker said. “Sometimes you have no choice but to have patience. Nobody’s going to drop you down a knockdown closer out of the sky until there’s some teams out of it.”
Five different relievers have saves. The Nationals have lost three games they led entering the ninth. The bullpen ERA of 5.33 ranks 28th in the majors and was ranked 18th in Win Probability entering Sunday. The biggest problem is that Shawn Kelley and Joe Blanton have both allowed six home runs already. Kelley is at least supposed to dominate right-handers with his fastball/slider combo, but all three hits he allowed on Sunday came on fastballs to right-handers.
It’s Stephen Strasburg on the mound here. Strasburg (3-1) struck out nine Orioles on Wednesday, but he also gave up five runs on eight hits and two walks over six innings. He struck out nine. This game ended up being decided by the bullpens, with Baltimore’s blowing it and letting Strasburg off the hook in the process. It blew his ERA up significantly — from 2.66 to 3.28. Strasburg takes the ball against the team he faced in his electric Major League debut in 2010.
Why Bet On Pittsburgh?
With four key players on the disabled list and two more on the restricted list, the Pirates are playing nine rookies, playing players out of position, playing with obvious lack of depth.
The Pirates won the final two games of their series in Arizona over the weekend after a six-game losing streak. It was 6-4 in 10 innings Sunday. Jose Osuna hit a two-run homer with two outs in the 10th inning and Tony Watson escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the inning. It was the 24-year- old Osuna’s second career homer and came after he’d been hitless in 12 straight at-bats.
Outfielder Gregory Polanco appeared to pull up running out a ground ball in the fifth inning and was replaced by John Jaso in right field in the bottom of the inning. Polanco left with discomfort in his left hamstring, but said after the game that he thinks it isn’t too serious and that he left for more of a precautionary reason. He had an excellent running catch in the third inning and left the game two innings later. He’ll be re-evaluated on Monday. Polanco has just started to get things going at the plate, batting .333 (11-for- 33) with one home run and four doubles over 10 games.
It’s Chad Kuhl (1-3, 5.81) on the mound for the Bucs. Kuhl surrendered four runs in five innings Wednesday in a loss to the Dodgers.
“Nothing different. I just attacked the way I did the first two hitters of the game and it worked out,” Kuhl said. “It’s really that first inning. A couple mistakes and that’s really it.”
With Jameson Taillon out indefinitely, Kuhl’s rotation spot probably isn’t in any danger at the moment. Still, his 5.81 ERA leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not quite as bad as it sounds; he’s given up just two homers 31 innings and four of the 14 walks he’s issued have been intentional. Kuhl has one career start against the Nationals, when he gave up one hit in six innings last July.
Washington at Pittsburgh MLB Betting Pick: Washington Nationals
In six career starts against the Pirates, he has posted a 2.51 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 43 innings.