Nationals v Braves
Pitching will be the prevailing story when the Atlanta Braves visit the Washington Nationals on Tuesday. Over and over again, Stephen Strasburg has proved he has successfully bounced back from the elbow reconstruction surgery he endured last year. His overall numbers are some of the best in the National League. He ranks in the league’s top ten in ERA (2.91), wins (14), strikeouts per nine innings (11.175) and fewest hits per nine innings (7.428). Despite concerns that Strasburg’s elbow won’t hold up (the Nationals’ front office plan to shut him down soon to protect his arm), the right-hander has shown little sign of dropping off so far in the second half. He’s 5-1 with a 3.12 ERA since the All Star Game. As for the Braves, they’ll send Paul Maholm to the pitcher’s mound. Maholm has been an excellent acquisition from the Chicago Cubs, having allowed just four runs in 23 innings since the trade. In fact, he’s made eight consecutive quality starts (six-plus innings pitched; three or fewer earned runs allowed). Anticipate under 7 runs at 1.90 being the result rather than the over, which also comes in at 1.90.
Padres v Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a preferable pitching match-up when they clash with the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Pittsburgh’s AJ Burnett is having a fantastic season. Overall, he’s 15-4 with a 3.54 ERA. While he was touched for four earned runs in just 5.2 innings in his one other start against San Diego, he did strike out 10 batters, which suggests that he can be dominant against the Padres. Even if he is less than stellar, San Diego’s pitcher, Jason Marquis, remains a dodgy proposition to support. He’s 8-11 with a 5.30 ERA and performed poorly in his last start against the Braves. (He yielded six runs and eight hits in just 4 2/3 innings). Opt for the Pirates at 1.75 instead of the Padres at 2.08.