Washington Heads to Philadelphia as the MLB Betting Favorite on Friday

Posted by Michael Hunt on Thursday,April 6, 2017 8:58, EST in

It’s the home opener for Philadelphia on Friday and a matinee to celebrate that as the Phillies welcome the defending NL East champion Washington Nationals to town. The Nats will be heavy MLB betting favorite behind reigning NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer.

Washington at Philadelphia MLB Betting Preview, Pick & Prediction

When: Friday, April 7, 3:05 PM ET
Where: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia
Probable pitchers (away/home): Max Scherzer/Vince Velasquez
TV: MLB Network
Stream: MLB.tv
RadioWashington / Philadelphia
Opening MLB Lines: Nats favored by TBA

Why Bet On Washington?

Scherzer dealt with some finger troubles this offseason and spring and that’s why he didn’t start on Opening Day. But he’s good to go now. Scherzer was originally scheduled to start the third game of the season, but after his last scheduled exhibition start was moved from Friday to Saturday due to a rain delay, the Nationals decided to adjust his 2017 debut to afford him an extra day of rest.

In his final spring start, Scherzer labored somewhat against the Red Sox regulars, who fought him nearly every at-bat, fouling off more pitches than Scherzer has seen a team spoil all spring. He struck out four and walked a batter, and had more than one between-innings conversation with pitching coach Mike Maddux.

“They grinded out some ABs and those are professional at-bats, up and down the lineup. Plus the DH, no pitcher so they grind out everything,” Scherzer said. “So that’s as good a start as you’re going to face in spring training to get you ready for spring training. So I feel like I took a step forward today in terms of getting back in the zone.”

Last year, Scherzer became the sixth player in MLB history to win a Cy Young in both leagues. He joined Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and Roy Halladay as the only pitchers in Major League history to win the Cy in both leagues. Scherzer also became the first pitcher in Nationals history to win the NL Cy Young Award by putting together perhaps the best season in franchise history.

He led the National League in wins (20), innings pitched (228 1/3), strikeouts (284), WHIP (0.97) and strikeouts-to- walks ratio (5.07). He finished second in batting average against (. 196), seventh in ERA (2.96), and induced a higher percentage of swinging strikes than anyone in baseball (15.3 percent, according to FanGraphs). Since 2010, no starter has struck out more batters than Scherzer, and no one has won more games.

Why Bet On Philadelphia?

Here we are just a couple days into the season and already manager Pete Mackanin is “concerned” about closer Jeanmar Gomez. On Monday vs. the Reds, Gomez ultimately recorded the save, but not before giving up a single and a two-run home run.

“I’m concerned,” Mackanin said. “I had two guys up in the ‘pen in that ninth inning [Joely Rodriguez and Pat Neshek]. He’s just not getting the ball down the way he did when he was successful. I want to make sure that he gets opportunities, but at the same time, I don’t want to let games slip away. He has to execute. Like I said, for me, he’s earned the right to be the closer for right now. But he’s got to get the ball down.”Mackanin also added of his closer situation that “I certainly have options.”

The Phils start their ace in young right-hander Vince Velasquez. He finished his first season in Philadelphia 8-6 with a 4.12 ERA and 152 strikeouts. Perhaps the highlight of his season came in April when he struck out a career-high 16 batters in a complete-game shutout of the San Diego Padres.

Velasquez possesses elite strikeout stuff, but he tends to pitch more taxing innings than a typical pitcher might; his 4.02 pitches per batter faced last season ranked in the 80th percentile. This could explain why a biceps strain limited him to just 24 starts, as well as his bloated 4.54 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 12 that came after his first DL stint but before he was shut down for the year around Labor Day.

Velasquez somehow faced division rival Washington just once last year and got the win, allowing three runs in six innings.

Washington at Philadelphia Betting Pick: Washington Nationals

You shouldn’t bet against Scherzer much. He was also 3-0 with a 2.02 ERA last year vs. the Phillies.