Date/Time: Friday, April 12, 2013 7:05 p.m. (ET)
Television: MLB Network
Pitching: ATL - Julio Teheran (R) / WSH - Ross Detwiler (L)
MLB Odds: JustBet
Pointspread: Washington -135 Atlanta +125
Total Line: 8
Reigning National League East champion Washington hosts division rival Atlanta Friday at 7:05 PM ET in the first game of a three-game series. It's only April, but every game between these clubs carries a little extra importance. Head-to-head meetings could very well decide which club wins the division considering the Braves finished only four games back of the Nationals in 2012. The Nationals won last year's season series 10-8.
Both teams are off to strong starts in 2013. Washington is 7-2 and has been tough as nails at home where it is 6-0. Atlanta is 8-1 and hasn't missed a beat on the road where it is 3-0.
Washington boasts arguably the best pitching staff in baseball, but it's the Atlanta staff that has been sizzling early. The Braves lead the majors in team ERA (1.89) while the Nationals rank 16th (4.22). Atlanta's team ERA would be even lower if it wasn't for scheduled starter Julio Teheran, who carries a 9.00 ERA into this contest. He gave up 5 earned runs in five innings to the Chicago Cubs in a game the Braves lost 6-5 Apr. 6. This will be just the sixth career start for Teheran.
While Atlanta is hoping for a better outing out of Teheran, the Nationals are hoping Ross Detwiler will turn in another performance like his first. The southpaw enters with a 0.00 ERA after giving up no earned runs in six innings of work in a game the Nationals won 7-6 at Cincinnati Apr. 6. Detwiler, who is in his second season as a full-time starter, went 10-8 with a 3.40 ERA last year.
While Detwiler looks to have the edge on the rubber, this one could come down to which starter does a better job of keeping the ball in the ball park. Detwiler must work carefully against an Atlanta lineup that has 15 home runs. Six of those belong to offseason acquisition Justin Upton, who is batting .353.
Teheran, who gave up two round-trippers in his first start, could have trouble keeping the ball in the yard against a Washington lineup that has also hit 15 homers. Four of those belong to second-year phenom Bryce Harper, who is raking at a .417 clip.
Prediction: Detwiler went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts against the Braves last season. The Nationals won three of the starts with the two losses coming when Kris Medlen was on the mound for Atlanta. Teheran is no Medlen. I give Washington the edge at home with the more proven starter on the bump.