Date/Time: May 1, 7:10 p.m. EST
Starting Pitchers: Nationals (Zimmerman) Braves (Maholm)
MLB Odds from: Bookmaker
Moneyline: Braves (-110) Nationals (+100)
The Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves are likely to be battling for the top spot in the NL East this season. To say that the Atlanta Braves have had the Washington Nationals number recently is a major understatement. Atlanta has beaten the Nationals in eight straight contests. The Nationals are flirting with .500 while the Braves have one of the best records in baseball. Who will come out on top in this nationally televised game Wednesday night?
Washington finished 2012 with the best regular season record in all of baseball, but the Nationals are off to a bit of a slow start this year. What’s the reason for the slow start? The pitching staff that was the best in baseball last year has been mediocre so far this season. In addition, the Nationals defense has been atrocious. Washington has committed 23 errors already this year, which is more than any other team in the majors. It’s hard to win close games when you are struggling that badly in the field.
The Nationals offense looks more talented on paper this season than they did in 2012. Bryce Harper is off to a red hot start to the season. Harper is hitting .356 with nine home runs and 18 RBI’s this year. Ian Desmond sits at .303 for the season thus far. Adam Laroche and Danny Espinosa are both hitting well under .200 so far this year, and those are key guys that the Nationals offense really needs to get increased production from. The Nationals are averaging 3.65 runs per game.
Atlanta hit a bit of a speed bump when they were swept in Detroit this past weekend, but other than that one series the Braves have played terrific baseball this year. Justin Upton leads the majors with 12 home runs already this year. He gives the Braves a reliable power hitter in the middle of the lineup. Freddie Freeman is healthy once again, and I won’t be surprised if he puts up some big numbers this season. Brian McCann and Jason Heyward are both on the disabled list right now, but McCann is expected back next week. Once this offense gets completely healthy, they should be among the best in the majors.
The Braves are second in the majors in team ERA at 3.24 in 2013. The depth of the starting rotation is a major strength for this team. The bullpen is probably the best in all of baseball. Craig Kimbrel has quickly become the most dominating closer in the game. The Braves don’t necessarily have a top notch Ace, but they have several guys who have the stuff to be number two or number three pitchers for most teams and they are at the back of this rotation.
Free Pick: Under 7
Jordan Zimmerman is one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball and Paul Maholm has been great for the Braves. Look for a low scoring game in this one.