Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 7:00 AM
We have quite the race brewing right now in the National League East, with Washington, Atlanta, and Miami neck-and-neck-and-neck at the top of the standings. Neither has played great baseball this year…and each is a bad week away from being below the .500 mark. But, SOMEBODY has to win that division! And, that somebody could well be the team that makes a statement this weekend when the Braves visit the Nationals for a four-game set.
If either team takes three of four, that creates some distance at the top of the heap. A four-game sweep would be a true statement about what’s likely ahead. A split with both teams playing inconsistently? Then, believe it or not, you have to start taking Miami seriously as a rags-to-riches darkhorse. Again, SOMEBODY will eventually step up and win this thing.
Let’s crunch some numbers for Braves/Nats, a series that will have games prominently featured on TV this weekend…
Atlanta: 3.61 runs per game, .305 on-base, .381 slugging
Washington: 4.10 runs per game, .316 on-base, .383 slugging
Atlanta has one of the worst run-producing offenses in baseball this year. But, you can see that Washington hasn’t been much better in terms of on-base and slugging percentages. The Braves aren’t making much of their opportunities. Washington is doing a better job of that, but isn’t producing at a playoff level either. Edge to the Nats in this stat in terms of the head-to-head matchup.
THURSDAY’S PITCHERS (on MLB Network)
Gavin Floyd: 2.98 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 7.3 K-Rate
Jordan Zimmerman: 2.98 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.5 K-Rate
Floyd’s ERA is a little misleading. That WHIP is a better reflection of his still level. Atlanta’s also been doing a good job of getting Floyd out of the game before he gets into trouble. He’s only averaging six innings per start, which is low for a guy with an ERA below three. Zimmerman has been on fire of late, allowing only one earned run in his last 25 innings. Though the above stats look fairly even, we think Zimmerman has the better arm.
Mike Minor: 4.42 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 8.3 K-Rate
Stephen Strasburg: 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 10.8 K-Rate
Minor had two horrendous starts that killed his stats. He’s not as bad as those stats make it look in terms of his “typical” performance. But, he has been too easy to hit this year. Strasburg continues to post high strikeout counts…but he’s not shutting people down like he used to. Opponents are finding ways to get something on the board most nights. Clear edge to Strasburg, but that’s no secret to the market. He’ll be very expensive in Vegas in this matchup.
SATURDAY’S PITCHERS (on FOX-TV)
Julio Teheran: 2.31 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 7.2 K-Rate
Doug Fister: 3.08 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 6.0 K-Rate
Cy Young caliber stuff this year from Teheran, except for one bad start in Colorado. His numbers would be even better if not for that game! Fister has been grinding well with his low K-Rate, and has made it to seven full innings in half of his starts. Only game this weekend where Atlanta will have an edge on the mound.
Ervin Santana: 4.12 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.8 K-Rate
Tanner Roark: 2.85 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 7.0 K-Rate
Santana has cooled off after a hot start, and is now a question mark moving forward in terms of being a meaningful contributor in the pennant race. Remember, this is a low scoring year in baseball. Contenders just can’t afford giving a start every fifth day to a guy who’s trending where Santana is trending to. Atlanta has lost six of his last seven starts. Roark has been a pleasant surprise for the Nats, and has thrown quality starts in five of his last six outings. Clear edge to Washington in the finale.
The running of the stats makes it pretty clear that Washington has the better chance going forward. They have the better offense, and more impressive starting pitching. Can they start playing like a champion this week? They had a nice run on a recent road trip, but fell back to earth soon afterward.
JIM HURLEY is likely to have at least one strong play in this series, and may have even more. You can always purchase game day BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office during normal business hours on weekdays or in the morning on weekends at 1-888-777-4155.
Back with your tomorrow for another series preview. Here’s this weekend’s schedule here in the NOTEBOOK…
Friday: MLB Series Preview…Seattle at Kansas City
Saturday: MLB TV Preview…Detroit at Cleveland (prime time on FOX)
Sunday: MLB TV Preview…Texas at LA Angels (prime time on ESPN)
Important handicapping information for Las Vegas baseball bettors here in the NOTEBOOK, then BIG, JUICY WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!