It’s the halfway point in the Major League Baseball season, but the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals are still playing catchup after several early-season postponements due to positive COVID-19 tests within the Miami Marlins organization.
The two NL East foes begin a three-game set in D.C. on Tuesday night in the first of 10 meetings this season. These meetings will surely go a long way in determining how the division shakes out.
The Phillies enter the matchup as the road favorite (-118) with the bookmakers setting the over/under at 10.5 runs.
Can a Revamped Bullpen Bail Out Arrieta?
The Phillies turn to Jake Arrieta, their No. 3 starter, in the series opener against the Nationals. Aside from one promising start against the Braves on Aug. 8, Arrieta has struggled in 2020.
He’s failed to pitch more than six innings in any of his four starts and was unable to get out of the fifth in his two most recent outings, both of which resulted in Phillies losses.
Last week, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak bolstered the bullpen by adding three veteran relievers in Brandon Workman, David Hale and Heath Hembree. Statistically, the Philadelphia relief staff is the worst in baseball, but those three arms should help. They’re going to need to if Arrieta’s struggles continue in the nation’s capital.
The defending World Series champions enter this divisional clash after an extended five-game series with the aforementioned Marlins. The Nationals won just two of those affairs, propelling Miami to second in the division, while Washington and Philadelphia dwell in the cellar, each four games back of the first-place Atlanta Braves.
In fact, the Nationals have exchanged wins and losses dating back to Aug. 13, and their longest win streak of the season is just two games, accomplished twice.
They’ll hand the ball to right-hander Erick Fedde, who is normally a reliever but is making his third start of the year. Don’t expect Fedde to go deep into the ballgame, but if he can force the Phillies free-swinging hitters to hit the ball on the ground, he could be effective. Fedde has induced 41 groundballs in just 17 2/3 innings of work this year, compared to five strikeouts.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals Betting Pick
The Phillies snapped a five-game losing streak on Sunday night in front of a national audience against the Braves in dramatic fashion. Their much-maligned bullpen turned in a rare gem, but the highlight of the game was the final play. Dansby Swanson was thrown out at home for the final out as he tried to score the tying run.
The Nationals’ comeback bid against the Marlins fell short on Monday, as they fell to Miami, 11-8.
Sportsbooks have set the over/under relatively high, and for good reason. Neither starting pitcher has proven they have what it takes to go deep, which means we should see both bullpens early. Considering the Nationals used six pitchers on Monday night, and the Phillies had the day off, that advantage goes to Philadelphia.
Keep an eye on Juan Soto props as well. The Nationals young superstar is 4-for-9 with two home runs and five RBI lifetime against Arrieta, though I wouldn’t expect them to square off more than twice in this one.
Lay the small juice with the road team and take the Phillies -118.
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