Runs may be hard to come by in this one as Max Scherzer (7-5, 1.93 ERA) and the Washington Nationals (35-33) meet Francisco Liriano (4-5, 2.94 ERA) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (39-28) in the second of a three-game series at Nationals Park. The Nationals won the last game 4-1 and Washington leads the series 1-0. The game gets underway at 4:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jun. 20 and will air on ROOT-PIT. MASN2 and MLB N.
Scherzer is 3-2 with a 3.05 ERA against the Pirates in his career, but is up against a strong Pittsburgh offense that's hitting .257 on the year. Denard Span (.310, 30 Rs, 5 HRs, 20 RBIs, 7 SBs) continued his strong season yesterday, going 2 for 5 with one run. In his career against the Nationals, Liriano is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA. He meets a solid Washington offense that's batting .257.
Washington, a -135 favorite, will look to capitalize at home against Pittsburgh. The Over/Under (O/U) for the matchup is set at six runs. When playing as the favorite, the Nationals have a 27-22 record and overall money line at -599. The Nationals are second in the NL in walks allowed with just 2.4 per game.
Moving on to the away team, the Pirates come into this game in an interesting position. They have won more than 60 percent of games played as the underdog (6-12) but have a negative money line (+732). During the last 10 games, they averaged 2.9 runs per game, below their 4.1 season average. Pittsburgh is one of the top hitting teams in the NL with an average of 8.9 hits per contest. The Pirates have racked up 51 steals on the year, making them one of the most threatening base-running teams in the league. The Pirates are a problem for opposing batters, sporting an NL-low 2.85 ERA on the road this season. They have a WHIP of 1.18, third best in the MLB. The Pittsburgh pitching staff has been an intimidating group on the road this year, averaging 8.2 strikeouts per game.
So far this season, the Nationals are 1-0 against the Pirates. The Nationals will take on a left-hander (Liriano) in this game. They have excelled against left-handed starting pitchers this season, going 9-4. Taking the hill against the Pirates will be the right-hander Scherzer. They sport a 31-23 record against righties.
Predictions: SU Winner - WSH, O/U - Over
Pittsburgh has won 42% (11-15) of its games when leading after 7 innings. However, Washington has won 58% (19-14) of its games when taking a late lead.
The Nationals are coming into this game after allowing one walk during their last outing. The Pirates have an 8-15 record when opponents give up that many walks or fewer.
When they are outhit, the Nationals are 6-30. The Pirates have a 6-19 record when opponents outhit them.
Ranking 22nd in home runs, Pittsburgh has hit 53 this season. Washington ranks eighth with 71 home runs.
Ranking eighth, Washington is in the top 10 of the league in hits, notching 8.63 per game. Pittsburgh ranks in the top five at fourth with 8.94.
Ranking 19th, Pittsburgh is in the bottom half of the league for its on-base plus slugging percentage (.695). Washington ranks in the top 10 at ninth with an OPS of .729.
The Pirates are 10-18 when they allow at least one home run. The Nationals perform similarly when they allow one or more homers with a 10-19 record.