Washington Nationals (25-14; 22-15-2 O/U) vs. Atlanta Braves (16-21; 23-14 O/U)
MLB: Friday, May 19, 2017 at 7:35pm EST
Line: Washington -142/Atlanta +132
The Atlanta Braves will host the Washington Nationals as the NL East foes begin a three game series Friday night from SunTrust Park. The Nationals will send 31-year old right-hander Gio Gonzalez to the mound, and 42-year old right-hander R.A. Dickey will toe the rubber for the hometown Braves. The Nationals swept the Braves in Atlanta last month.
Gonzalez Rebounds from Worst Start by Silencing Phillies
Gio Gonzalez will make his ninth start of the campaign, aiming for his first win of the month. Gonzalez bounced back from his worst start of the year by limiting the Phillies to one run in 6.1 innings five days ago, but did not receive much run support and finished with the no-decision. The veteran right-hander is having a tremendous year, boasting a 2.47 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP to go along with a 3-1 record in 51 innings logged. Gonzalez does not have good numbers in his career against Atlanta, going 4-9 with a weak 5.06 ERA in 17 career starts. Nick Markakis is 9 for 35 with seven RBI’s against Gonzalez, while Matt Kemp is 5 for 17 with one homer, and Freddie Freeman is 11 for 36 with 12 RBI’s. Jayson Werth is swinging a hot bat, collecting 12 hits along with three homers and five RBI’s over his last six games. The 37-year old left fielder is hitting .348 this month and owns a .308 batting average along with six home runs and 12 RBI’s on the season. Werth is 1 for 5 against the Braves this season.
The deep Nationals lineup is averaging a Major League-best 5.97 runs per game, and feature a dazzling .280 team batting average. The Washington pitching has been mediocre, recording a 4.30 team ERA, placing them 17th overall.
Dickey Aims for Another Quality Start Over Nationals
R.A. Dickey will make his eighth start of the season, looking to improve his record to 4-3. Dickey pitched well in his latest outing, allowing three runs in seven innings to the Marlins, but was charged with the loss. The veteran knuckleballer is having a solid season, posting a 4.22 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP in 42.2 innings of work. He took on the Nationals last month and notched the Quality Start, holding them to three runs in seven innings but took the loss, and now sits at 4-8 with a 3.69 ERA in 95 career innings against Washington. Bryce Harper is 4 for 19 with one RBI against Dickey, while Ryan Zimmermann is 11 for 34 with five RBI’s, and Jayson Werth is 13 for 27 with four RBI’s. Nick Markakis continues to excel at the dish, collecting eight hits with eight RBI’s over his last five games played. The career .289 hitter is now hitting a solid .317 with one home run and 21 RBI’s on the season, and has recorded a hit in all but two games this month. Markakis has notched a hit in 4 of 11 at bats with one RBI against Washington this season.
The Braves are scoring an average of 4.70 runs per game, ranking them 15th in the Major Leagues, and are hitting .261 as a team. The Atlanta pitching is struggling, posting a 4.74 team ERA, positioning them down at 27th overall.
The Washington Nationals are:
- 2-8 in Gonzalez’ last 10 road starts against a team with a losing record.
- 1-4 in their last 5 road games.
- 1-4 in their last 5 road games against a right-handed starter.
The Atlanta Braves are:
- 5-1 in their last 6 games overall.
I am taking my chances with the Braves in this matchup. Dickey is pitching well, allowing three or fewer runs in all but one of his starts, and he held Washington to three runs in seven innings earlier this season. Dickey now owns a solid 3.69 career ERA against Washington, so I am confident he can hold them down. Also, Gonzalez has had a hard time against the Braves, posting a 5.09 ERA in 17 career starts, and the Braves bats are red hot right now, so I am confident they can deliver with a home win in this contest.
Pick: Atlanta Braves +132
The Braves have heated up offensively and the Nationals continue to lead the Majors in run production. Gonzalez does not have good numbers against the Braves, so I expect Atlanta to score some runs, and the over is 14-3 in the last 17 meetings between these two teams. The Nationals should be able to get to Dickey, and the over is 5-0 in their last 5 games against a starter with a WHIP greater than 1.30.