My only MLB play on Tuesday gets washed away by rain but it’s been a tremendous MLB season so far at 18-10 +31.25 units and I’m going to step out on a totals selection I love on Wednesday when the Washington Nationals take on the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
Let’s work backwards here since the elite starting pitching matchup is the most obvious part of this UNDER bet. On Sunday I backed the Phillies in their 5-4 win over Atlanta and one of the big points I made in my handicap was the Phillies bullpen was, for lack of a better term, due for some “positive regression”. I’m not saying the Phillies pen doesn’t still have issues and I certainly don’t think Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman are going to come in and make everything better overnight but getting those two definitely helps and I think the Phillies have just had some really bad luck late it games that’s bound to even out. A good indicator of that is the unusually high BABIP the Phillies pen has this year. BABIP is batting average on balls put in play and Philadelphia has far and away the highest in the league at .414. That could mean they are giving up more hard hit balls but it’s also a measure of luck to some extent so while this isn’t a great bullpen I don’t think they are as bad as their 7.71 team bullpen ERA suggests. Since making that statement on Sunday the Phillies bullpen has thrown 7.2 innings and given up just two earned runs and I like the Phillies pen to continue to trend in the right direction tonight against a Nationals team that is inconsistent at the plate.
The Nationals bullpen is middle of the road, they are almost in the dead middle of the league in ERA, WHIP, FIP, xFIP and WAR but they also have a top 10 BABIP which suggests the Nats relievers have been a little unlucky as well. I can’t make a strong case for the Nationals bullpen but I also can’t make a huge case against them, it really comes down to which teams shows up as the Nationals have been one of the more inconsistent teams in the league this season.
The one good thing for the Nationals when it comes to their pitching is they probably won’t need to go very deep into the bullpen tonight as they have an absolute stud on the mound to start this game in Patrick Corbin. I’m usually weary of taking UNDER in divisional games because of the familiarity factor but the Phillies haven’t seen Corbin yet this season and they did very little against him last year as Corbin posted a 2.88 ERA in four starts against the Phillies. Corbin faced the Phillies once in 2018 as well and went 7.1 innings of four hit shutout ball in a win. Corbin also didn’t give up more than three earned runs in any of those five starts against the Phillies and went at least six in every single one so there’s a solid history here of the Phillies being able to do very little against him. Corbin is off to an excellent start in 2020 with a 3.99 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, he’s far better than the starter the Phillies have seen in their past couple games and I think this Philadelphia lineup could be a bit overmatched here.
We have another absolute stud toeing the rubber for the visitors here as Aaron Nola gets the ball for the Phillies tonight. Nola got roughed up by the Braves in his last start but that was Atlanta’s second time seeing him this year and I think that’s a case where the familiarity factor did play a part. Of course the Nationals have seen Nola plenty but not yet in 2020 and, while the Nats did have good numbers against Nola last year, this is a much different Nationals lineup so I’m not worried about the Nats breaking out here. Nola has had two questionable starts but in the others he’s been completely lights out and has a 3.10 ERA and stellar 0.90 WHIP on the season. Nola struggled in his first start of the year (forgivable) and the second time the Braves saw him in quick succession (forgivable). Nola’s other three starts saw him go six innings and give up one run on three hits while striking out 12 in a tough luck loss to the Yankees, 8 innings while giving up one run on two hits and striking out 10 against the Braves and seven innings of shutout ball while striking out eight in a win over the Mets. Nola has elite stuff, he’s one of the elite starters in baseball and I think this is a nice bounce back spot for him against a Nats lineup that, more often than not, is going to be overmatched against the better pitchers in the league.
I just really like a pitcher’s duel here. I think we are getting some line value at 8.5 because these are two elite starters and that’s usually an 8 or a 7.5 on the total. I expect Corbin and Nola to both throw well and both bullpens to back it up in what should be a tightly contested game and one that tucks in UNDER the eight-run threshold without much issue. Play on Under 8.5 (-110) for 5 units
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