A Wednesday night showdown between the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals takes center stage with the nation’s capital as the backdrop. The Nationals continue their efforts to scratch and claw their way back into NL East contention, while the Phillies are still playing catch-up with the New York Mets. Things started off with a bang in the opener with the Phillies’ dramatic ninth-inning comeback victory. They’ll try to keep the party going with Chase Anderson slated to start at pitcher opposite of Washington’s Paolo Espino.
Alvarado saves the Phillies, againJose Alvarado had the Superman symbol on the chest of his jersey by the time Tuesday’s game against the Nationals was over. It marked the fourth save of the season for the closer and also helped put the Phillies one win away from taking the series.
Don’t be surprised if the team needs saving again on Wednesday considering how close the games have been between the NL East rivals. Philly’s pitching rotation ranks in the bottom-half of the league in ERA (4.48) with the team allowing an average 4.75 runs per game. Defensively, the Phillies have been an inconsistent mess.
But so have the Nationals.
Washington basically hitting the reboot button on their team has made them even easier to score runs against. So it’s no surprise the Phillies are turning this series into somewhat of an offensive spectacle. That’ll have to continue to be the case for them to keep raking in wins.
They can’t put all of their faith in Chase Anderson and the bullpen to save them. Anderson, 33, is throwing a 6.75 WHIP on top of a 2-4 record on the season. It has been a rocky ride for the veteran journeyman, and it won’t get any smoother in this game.
The Phillies recently placed center fielder Andrew McCutchen on the injured list with a knee injury.
Nationals not backing down from a fightFor a team that basically hit the reboot button, the Nationals are still making it interesting against the Phillies in this series. Their ace pitcher, Max Scherzer, is now in a Los Angeles Dodgers jersey, along with Trea Turner, the MLB All-Star and team’s former leader in batting average.
This isn’t a Nationals team committed to winning now. Quite the contrary, they’re a team fine with losing now to get better later.
But that doesn’t mean the proud players on the roster are ready to stop fighting.
They’ve come up short in both of the first two meetings of this series with the Phillies, but they have mustered four-plus runs in each game. There’s certainly more where that came from against a Phillies defense that has been overly generous this season. Perhaps they’ll be generous enough to allow the Nationals to come away with an upset.
It all starts on defense.
Scoring runs isn’t something to brag about if you lack the means to stop them on the other end. So this game will come down to the effectiveness of Nationals starting pitcher Paolo Espino on the mound. He’s throwing a 3.08 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 61.1 innings of work this season. After getting gashed on the road by the Baltimore Orioles, he recently bounced back with a strong showing and a victory over the Chicago Cubs.
That sort of determination and grit will be needed as the Nationals make a play for an upset.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Phillies are 3-8 in their last 11 games as a road favorite.
- Phillies are 0-4 in their last 4 Wednesday games.
- Nationals are 11-3 in their last 14 home games against a right-handed starter.
- Nationals are 8-1 in their last 9 Wednesday games.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Nationals aren’t getting swept in this series.
They’ve had opportunities to come away with victories in both of the first two games. Tuesday’s meeting in particular came down to only one run.
While Washington is hitting the reboot button on their roster, they’re still putting up a fight in games. The Phillies have struggled defensively throughout the season with opposing teams mustering a .249 batting average and .748 OPS against them. They just haven’t been able to consistently shut things down well enough to avoid needing a shootout every time they step on the field.
So, Washington’s sudden offensive surge is no fluke by any stretch of the imagination. They’re simply making big-time plays against a bad defensive team. That isn’t going to suddenly change overnight for Wednesday’s head-to-head meeting. If the Nationals are going to steal a game at home in this series, it’ll be this one.
I’m taking Washington to eke out a win.
Full-Game Total Pick
These games have been trending on the side of being high-scoring in recent outings. There have been a total of nine-plus runs in six of the last seven head-to-head meetings between the Phillies and Nationals. It’s a testament to how feisty things can get offensively in this series—or, how bad they can look defensively. The Nationals are allowing an average 4.66 runs per game, while the Phillies have fallen to 4.75 runs. Neither bullpen can be counted on to make things any easier for the struggling pitching rotations heading into this game. Give me the over in this one.