The Nationals got ran over in their series against Atlanta. Will they be vindictive and help to ruin the Dodgers' post season hopes? The pitchers are wellmet. So, how will tonight's dirt diamond show down play out?
By: Joe Catalano
The Los Angeles Dodgers can consider themselves lucky after splitting a doubleheader with the Washington Nationals and sitting just 2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the final wild card spot with Milwaukee hot on their heels with just 13 games to go.
Dodging a bullet
As I predicted, Jordan Zimmerman was just a bit better than Aaron Harang in Game 1 as the Nats were victorious, 3-1, and in the 2nd game, Josh Beckett was much better than John Lannan. What I didn't see coming was a 6-run 8th inning from Washington, and the bullpen wasn't very helpful to Beckett's cause. Luckily for L.A,, Matt Kemp bailed them out and possibly saved their season with a 9th inning home run to win the game.
The Kemp homer avoided a 2-game swing, and Los Angeles finally got some much needed offense out of their lineup. Five Dodgers players had two hits or more, and more importantly, Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp were contributors after a long stretch of not producing.
Kemp is L.A.
As you saw in last night's game, the Dodgers will only go as far as Matt Kemp takes them. He got robbed of the MVP award last season; after a blazing start to this season, he pulled a hamstring, and hasn't been the same since returning to the field. Last night's game could have been a turning point for Matt Kemp.
Andre Ethier has been the only reliable source of offense for the Dodgers all season. After going 2-for-5 with 1 RBI in Game 2, Ethier faces Ross Detwiler today, a pitcher against whom he's fared well. He's a career is 3 for 7 with 1 HR and 3 RBI against the tall and lanky left-hander.
Trouble with Ethier notwithstanding, Ross Detwiller (9-6, 3.16) appears to have the edge in tonight's starting pitching matchup. Having gotten off to a fast start, Dodgers starter Chris Capuano's numbers have since dropped precipitiously.
On June 23rd, Capuano was 9-2 with a 2.60 ERA. Since then, however, he has seen his earned run average rise to 3.60 while going 2-8. Furthermore, Capuano hasn't won a game since August 12th while Detwiler is 7-2 at home with an earned run average of 2.67 this season.
Detwiler's last win came on September 3rd when he shutout the Cubs in 7 innings, but he is coming off of a strong no-decision against Atlanta.
Although everything points to Ross Detwiler, you can't count out Chris Capuano as a veteran, and the Dodgers are coming off a huge win that should give them momentum.
MLB betting odds have the Nationals as a -129 favorite with the total at 8 runs.
I'm a true believer in momentum, and although I fear Ross Detwiler, the Dodgers have to be thrilled with Kemp's 9th inning homer and being able to keep pace with St.Louis after giving up a big lead. Chris Capuano has been a disaster for quite a while now, but he has the ability to pitch well, and being the veteran starter in this game is an advantage. Take the underdog Dodgers to win the series in this nightime matchup.
Pick - Los Angeles +119
By: Joe Catalano
It might be fun for the fans, but the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals have the unenviable task of playing a doubleheader due to inclement weather on Tuesday.
I gave you my analysis for game 1 yesterday and, after a St. Louis victory over Houston, the Dodgers are now 1.5 games behind the Cards for the final playoff spot. Obviously, L.A. will be looking for the sweep, but they at least need a split as doubleheaders are tasking.
Double the fun?
This is not necessarily true as it creates more work for the manager on how to implement his players into the lineup as the teams will likely be playing 18 innings and possibly 6 to 7 hours of baseball. The Nationals can't afford to be swept with the way that the Braves are playing, but the pressure is on the Dodgers here.
In game 2, the Dodgers send out Josh Beckett (1-2, 3.38) and he'll be opposed by John Lannan (3-0, 2.41) for the Nationals. Lannan doesn't have the resume of Beckett, but he's been known to pitch some gems, and the Dodgers will need their offense to step up and for Beckett to pitch well.
This is an important game, so expect most of the regulars to play both games. Both pitchers have had a history of pitching well against the other team. Beckett is a lifetime 7-2 with a with a 2.37 ERA against the Nats while Lannan is a career 4-1 with a 2.64 ERA in 5 starts against the Dodgers. Lannan is coming off of a victory wherein he gave up just 5 hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Mets while Josh Beckett is a big money pitcher.
Let's take a look at some of the trends that I think are useful.
Nationals are 11-5 in their last 16 games of the second game of a doubleheader
Nationals are 20-6 on Wednesday games
Nationals are 6-2 in their last 8 home games
Nationals are 25-12 in their last 37 games vs. a right-handed starter (key stat)
Nationals are 4-1 in Lannans last 5 starts
Dodgers are 13-27 in their last 40 Wednesday games
Dodgers are 9-2 in their last 11 road games vs. a left-hander
Dodgers are 3-7 in their last 10 games vs. a team with a winning record
Dodgers are 1-4 in their last 5 road games
Under is 12-3-1 in the Dodgers last 16 games overall
Under is 10-2-1 in the Dodgers last 13 games vs. a team with a winning record
Under is 3-0-1 in Beckett's last 4 starts
Over is 5-0-1 in the Nationals last 6 home games
Over is 19-8-1 in the Nationals last 27 games vs. a team with a winning record
Some of the trends are inconsistent except for recent totals that a team has been playing to such as the Nationals playing to the over lately, and one trend that I think is very accurate is how well a team is playing against a left or right handed pitcher. Overall, you get a mixed bag of tricks; most of the trends are telling to you to stay away from the Dodgers, yet they hit left handed pitching very well.
I liked the Nationals in the 1st game and with an experienced Josh Beckett starting, look for the Dodgers to come away with a split. Players like Matt Kemp who have been struggling and been hampered by injuries all season will have to bear down and grit it out as this is a marathon but these are "must win" games.
The 2nd game has the Nats as a slim -112 favorite and the total for the game is 8 runs. These are very favorable odds with Beckett and Los Angeles (good value here) as the underdog and laying no juice if you choose L.A, as you should.
Pick: Los Angeles +102
By: Joe Catalano
The Los Angeles Dodgers travel to the nation's capital to face the Washington Nationals in what will be for them, a huge 3 game series. San Francisco has the NL West Division locked up and Los Angeles trails the St. Louis Cardinals by just 1 game for the last NL Wildcard spot.
I'll be covering this series because every game’s level of importance is magnified as the season draws to a close.
Tuesday, September 18th
The Natinals hold a comfortable 5 game lead in the National League East Division, but need to get back on the winning track after getting swept by Atlanta. This might be more of a bragging rights situation as the Atlanta Braves continue to win but the Nationals would like to go "wire to wire". In order to do that, they'll be facing a Dodgers team with everything to gain and everything to lose. Fasten your seat belts, this should be a good one.
Tonight's Major League matchup features two evenly matched pitchers, Aaron Harang (9-9,3.79) for the Dodgers and Jordan Zimmerman (10-8, 3.01) for the Nationals. Neither pitcher has been given a tremendous amount of run support as their records show, but these are two pitchers that are capable of shutting down an opposing team in a solo effort.
Harang has been very consistent but nothing to write home about lately. In each of his last 4 starts, he's pitched from 5-6 innings and has given up 3 runs in every single game. That is average no matter how you slice it. It's up to the Dodgers offense to support Harang if they want to catch the Cardinals.
Zimmerman has been less consistent as his earned run average was once 2.28 on July 28th. Putting that aside, he's put forth a decent effort in his last 2 outings. In his last 2 starts, Zimmerman has given up 4 runs in 12 innings while going 1-0 and showing great control.
Harang has the experience edge but I consider him to be a bit weathered, so to speak, and give the Nats a slight edge with Jordan Zimmerman taking the rubber.
The Nats are coming into this series on a real low note as their nemesis, the Atlanta Braves, put the broom to them, holding Washington to just 6 runs in 3 games. Offense will be needed in this game and although they're coming off of some poor efforts, the Nationals have some hard hitters in Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, and Ryan Zimmerman
. LaRoche and Zimmerman are super streaky players and that can be a positive and a negative for a respective baseball team.
Zimmerman has simmered down while coming up empty against Atlanta after a 5 game stretch in where he hit 4 home runs.LaRoche is riding a 6 game hitting streak and did go yard against Atlanta. If one of these players gets hot in this series, it could be lights out for L.A.
Los Angeles is coming off of a series where they could've done damage against the Cardinals but split at 2-2. Not a terrible thing as they stay in contention for the wild card with 15 games left in the season. It's difficult to believe that L.A. stands at just 76-71 after the outstanding start that they got off to, but a Matt Kemp hamstring and a bunch of trades have taken away from the Dodgers' ability to work as an everyday cohesive unit. The parts are there but it takes time to gel as a baseball team.Playing up to potential
When you look at this Dodgers lineup of Matt Kemp (.302), Hanley Ramirez (.264), Shane Victorino (.234), and Adrian Gonzalez (.233), they're not playing up to their potential.
Adrian Gonzalez was thought of to be a West Coast hitter from his days with San Diego but has been a disaster with the Dodgers with 1 HR and 16 RBI in 21 games. Maybe Boston knew something that Los Angeles didn't know.
The Dodgers will need to find their stroke or they'll be a formality to this season very quickly. Luckily for them, they've encountered a Nationals team that's slumping.
Odds makers have Washington listed as a -152 betting favorite and the total for the game is 8 runs. Washington has the better personnel in this game. I look for them to bounce back from an atrocious series with Atlanta. Take the Nats as the moderate chalk.Free MLB Pick: