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May 26, 2016

There is one pick tonight.

Take Washington Nationals (-138) on the ML against St. Louis Cardinals risking 4.14% to win 3%.
(Ross and Leake must start for wager to have action)

These two teams are both coming off defeats to division rivals but one was a lot more deflating than the other. That's because the Nats lost to the Mets but had opted to rest Bryce Harper and Ben Revere, in a game that they never led. Mike Matheny's Cards, on the other hand, did something that few other lineups have been able to do over the last 12 months and that is to get to Jake Arrieta! They tagged him with 4 runs and prevented him from what would have been another 'quality start' and yet still lost the game. What made this loss more emotionally tough to deal with is the fact that they had a chance to not only tie the game but win it 'walk-off fashion' right until the very last out in the 9th inning! There are no moral victories in baseball. They battled back and fought hard but if anything, that leaves them dejected as they lost another home series and then had to hop on a plane to travel to the nation's capital.

The Nationals did not have to travel after their series loss to the Mets and will be at home, right where they are most comfortable. They are in bounce-back mode, much like their opponents, but they are much more likely to secure the 'W', for several different reasons. First and foremost, they have seen Mike Leake many times throughout the years and have enjoyed considerable success against him. Given that Leake has spent a lot of time with other National League teams such as the Cincinatti Reds for years and then the Giants last year, Washington has plenty of plate experience him. The current group of Nats hitters have a .284 batting average and .346 on-base percentage in over 130 previous at-bats! It's fair to say then that the likes of Jason Werth, Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa and Ben Revere are seeing the ball well out of his hands and have given him trouble in the past. The day off yesterday might just help MVP Bryce Harper also break out of his current slump.

Cardinals had to use their best relievers in yesterday's competitive contest and that means those arms might just be a bit tired tonight. Washington, however, has their best bullpen arms ready to come in relief of Joe Ross when necessary. Ross is an under-rated pitcher with a high celing. He's impressively composed for his age and experience and is rarely rattled. His ability to lock-in and stay focused with men on base shows incredible maturity and poise and helps him. The St. Louis bats have only faced him a couple of times and with mixed results. It wouldn't surprise us if he out-dueled Mike Leake but even if he didn't, we believe Nats have certain other advantages that should see them edge what could be a tighly contested affair.

The absence of Matt Carpenter shouldn't be understimated either. Especially for a team that has been extremely error-prone this season. The 30-year old infielder has been everpresent for the Cards for years now and is a consistent player that is excellent with the bat and with the glove. He's a leader in the clubhouse and one of St. Louis' most outstanding players. He's currently on the 'paternity list' and will miss this game. He could be back as early as tomorrow when this 4-game series resumes but the Cards will miss him tonight. Dusty Baker's Nats have numerous intangible edges in this contest and should find a way to come out victorious.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Nationals are 5-2 at home when the total is set at 8 or 8.5 runs.
  • Cardinals defense leads the Majors with 42 total errors committed!
  • Nationals' bullpen is a perfect 7-0 in closing games out (save situations) at home!

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