Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:30 AM EST.
Washington +150 over LOS ANGELES
8:37 PM EST. PECOTA an acronym for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm, is a sabermetric system for forecasting Major League Baseball player performance. PECOTA gave almost the exact same odds in Game 2 (Dodgers 54%, Nationals 46%) Strasburg’s previous start in the series, as they do for this one. On a macro level, Los Angeles holds the advantage offensively (104 DRC+ vs. Washington’s 101 DRC+) and in their pitching (the teams are first and second in team DRA, with the Dodgers outpacing the Nationals 3.58 to 4.03). As the series is effectively a one-game series now, the former advantage still holds, but the latter favors the Nationals given the presence of Strasburg.
That said, as has been a common refrain throughout this series (and their season in general), Washington’s probability of winning is inversely proportional to how many innings their bullpen throws. Strasburg certainly has the ability to go deep into the game and will be pitching on full rest, as the Nats have avoided including him in their cavalcade of starters-as-relievers. But if he wears down or the Dodgers get to him early, the edge quite obviously swings to L.A. The Dodgers will surely have their Game 2 starter Clayton Kershaw — also on full rest — at the ready if Buehler falters, whereas Washington will have…well, uh, we all saw how Patrick Corbin fared in relief on Sunday.
Nationals vs. Buehler (L) Dodgers vs. Strasburg (R)
Trea Turner, SS Joc Pederson, RF
Adam Eaton, RF Max Muncy, 1B
Anthony Rendon, 3B Justin Turner, 3B
Juan Soto, LF Cody Bellinger, CF
Howie Kendrick, 1B Corey Seager, SS
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B Will Smith, C
Kurt Suzuki, C Matt Beaty, LF
Michael A. Taylor, CF Gavin Lux, 2B
Stephen Strasburg, P Walker Buehler, P
A couple of lineup changes highlight the few differences the teams will have entering the deciding game from the beginning of the series. Following a hamstring injury in Game 2, Victor Robles hasn’t appeared in the lineup since, with Taylor in his place in center field. Taylor’s listed here, but Robles is likely to get at-bats as his return was projected for Game 5. Ryan Zimmerman, who hit a home run in Game 4, should also bat at some point but may not start given the Dodgers starting Buehler. For the Dodgers, Beaty replaced A.J. Pollock in Game 4 following a start to the series in which he got on base just once in 12 at-bats.
The Dodgers’ elimination would be yet another year in which they, as the presumptive National League if not World Series favorites, once again fell short. With the presumed MVP and a perennial Cy Young candidate — as well as depth that rivals any team in the league — they are undoubtedly a team built to win any year during this current run.
For the Washington Nationals, a loss would indicate more of the same, and the memes — oh, the memes will have their day. Having not yet won a postseason series (depending, of course, on your interpretation of their winning the Wild Card game this year), they, too, have an abundance of talented players but have yet to turn that into advancing in the playoffs.
The early discussion around Strasburg’s career concerned his innings limit and not appearing in the 2012 postseason, and now he’s one of the best playoff pitchers of this era. Whatever literary device applies to that case, Strasburg is exactly who the Nationals need on the mound if they are to advance. PECOTA understandably sees the Dodgers as a more complete team and have home field advantage, but with the season that Strasburg’s having and with all the pressure in the world on the Dodgers shoulders and bats, they may be gripping said bats a little tight here. This is one game folks and if you bet the Dodgers, of course you might cash your ticket but in terms of value, Washington is the only play. They’re a great team with a great chance to win and the price on them for one lousy win is too great to pass up on.
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Washington +150 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.00)