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Washington/Atlanta over 3.5 -120:
After winning 7 of their first 9 , the Washington Nationals (7-4) have hit a roadblock looking to avoid a sweep in the finale of their 3 game series at the Atlanta Braves (7-4) this afternoon. Add to the fact that they got some momentum losing news regarding Ryan Zimmerman (.364 2 6), the road is only going to get tougher in the near future. Zimmerman suffered a broken right thumb diving into second base of last night's 6-3 loss to the Bravos. Zach Walters has been called up to replace Zimmerman on the roster.
Atlanta sends out Aaron Harang (1-1 0.71) to the hill, who despite no run support in his last outing was nonetheless solid yielding just a run on 2 hits in 6 IP. The tough luck right-hander who took the loss in the Mets' 4-0 victory walked 4 batters and fanned 9, hasreceived just one run of offense in his 2 starts thus far. Harang faces a now limited Washington lineup who has so far shown it's versatility and balance in the lineup sporting a .277 average along with 13 HR. However, to add insult to injury, namely Zimmerman's is Jason Werth (.368 2 8) who came in yesterday's loss as a pinch hitter. He singled but also experienced cramping and is listed as day to day. Denard Span (.222 0 4) was placed on the 7 day DL with a concussion. WIth Werth likely to miss some time, Bryce Harper (.275 1 4) will likely move to CF and Anthony Rendon (.372 2 9) from 2B to 3B.
Washington counters with Gio Gonzalez (2-0 0.75) who has started off 2014 in similar form that saw him go 21-8 with a 2.89 ERA two years ago. Finishing 3rd in 2012's Cy Young voting, Gio's two winning starts have come against Miami and the NY Mets and has maintained consistency and economics. He'll be facing an Atlanta lineup who seems to have found recent production so far in this series despite hitting just .240 overall. Freddie Freeman (.425 3 6) has picked up where he left off on last year's breakout campaign reaching base 5 times yesterday. All eyes are on Justin Upton (.366 3 6) who despite on and off struggles in 2013 seems to have found his niche. However the same unfortunately couldn't be said for brother BJ (.167 1 1) who batted just .184 in '13 and finally hit his first round tripper of the season yesterday. Dan Uggla (.195 0 5) is also off to a slow start by career standards and history, however he did go 2 for 4 with a run scored and 2 ribs in yesterday's 6-3 win. Evan Gattis (.286 1 3) collected 3 hits and it's only a matter of time before the power numbers begin to re-surge.
For good reason this afternoon's price is a bit on the high side, but given the first 2 outcomes of this series and the lower line, I feel confident that more of the same should be expected despite 2 pitchers cruising through their first 2 starts. The Nationals seem to master shuffling their lineup when it comes to making sacrifices due to injury. Atlanta's supporting cast is due to pick up the regulars as the days progress, and the 80 degree weather in downtown Atlanta should only enhance the offense. Make no mistake that Gonzalez and Harang will get their innings in, however the outcome could be taken into the bullpen's hands before the day is over. Best of luck however you play!
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