The Washington Nationals are poised to capture a road win against the New York Mets on Thursday.
Normally, I shy away from picking teams featuring pitchers who are getting a spot start. The Nationals’ Tanner Roark has only one start (before this one) in 2013. He’s been primarily used as a reliever. The general fear is that a pitcher who has been throwing one or two innings as a reliever won’t have the endurance to give a longer quality performance.
But there are a few reasons to back Roark and his Washington teammates in this game. The first is that Roark’s one start did come in his last appearance, and in that contest he showed the ability to pitch deep into the game. He threw six innings of shutout baseball, allowing four hits while walking zero and striking out four. Second, he’s pitched solidly against the Mets on August 31 in an extended relief appearance. He went 3 1/3 innings and gave up just three hits and one run. Finally, the Mets are relying on Aaron Harang to pitch them to victory, which is a big mistake.
Harang is on his third team of the season. He started spring training with the Dodgers, before being picked up by the Mariners; he was then released and now finds himself in New York. There’s a good reason why he’s been discarded twice in 2013 – he’s 5-11 with a 5.76. Moreover, he’s gotten worse as the season has progressed. In seven second half starts, he’s registered a 6.63 ERA. Pick Washington at 1.64.
In Los Angeles, the Dodgers will get the better of the San Francisco Giants in their historic rivalry.
Quite simply, it’s worth continuing to bet on Zack Greinke when he’s pitching at home. Not only are his Dodgers one of baseball’s best and not only is Greinke 4-0 in his past five starts but the pitcher is also (and always has been) a beast at home.
This year, he’s 8-1 at Dodger Stadium with a 2.20 ERA. Starting for the Giants is Matt Cain, who has been subpar this year as evidenced by his 4.37 ERA. In terms of this match-up, it’s worth noting that the last time he pitched against Los Angeles, he lasted just 2 1/3 and conceded eight runs.
He did throw better against the Dodgers earlier in the year, but that was before the team caught fire and began their run from the bottom of the National League West to the top. Go with Los Angeles at 1.53.
Back Washington Nationals to beat New York Mets at 1.64.
Back Los Angeles Dodgers to beat San Francisco Giants 1.51.