Nationals v Pirates
Expect a low-scoring game when the Pittsburgh Pirates visit the Washington Nationals on Thursday. Both teams are in the bottom three in runs scored and the pitchers in this contest aren’t the types that give either club hope to break out in a run-producing explosion. The Pirates James McDonald (2.42 ERA) has been fantastic as of late. He’s struck out 33 in his last 29 innings (over four games) and has allowed just 18 hits. The Nationals Jordan Zimmermann has also been quite dominant. Overall he has a 2.14 ERA and has allowed just 37 hits in 46 1/3 innings. In his last performance, Zimmermann struck out nine in seven innings en route to a 2-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. As a result, pick under 6.5 runs at 1.75 and pass on the over at 2.08.
Cubs v Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies’ Roy Halladay hasn’t won a game since April 16. This match up against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field should break that streak. During his drought, which has lasted five starts (his longest winless period since August-September 2007), Halladay has pitched well. He’s delivered a quality start – defined as pitching six-plus innings but allowing three or fewer runs – in four of the five appearances. The problem has been run support. In those four well-pitched outings, the Phillies scored a total of five runs. The Philadelphia lineup will be well-positioned to support Hallady in this contest. The reason: they’re facing Chris Volstad, who is 0-5 with a 6.92 ERA. Volstad is riding a dubious streak of his own – 18 straight starts without a win – but his failure is primarily based on his own effort rather than the tough-luck scenarios Halladay has faced. This means the Phillies on the road are the right pick at 1.52, instead of the Cubs at 2.55.