Normally, a confrontation between Washington and Philadelphia would hold the headlines in MLB, but these days the 16 victory gap separating them is too high. The fact that the hosts plan to send Stephen Strasburg to the mound despite the fact that he is not completely recovered following Tommy John surgery makes matters interesting.
Match: Washington Nationals vs Philadelphia Phillies
Bet: Over 6,5 runs
Odds: bet365 1.90
The reason the Nationals chose him as starting pitcher are closely related to the fact that they will be opposed by an equally gifted player. Cliff Lee is no longer a promising rookie, but an established pitcher with a career that can make more major league starter blush with envy. Despite keeping his earned run average below four, he has just one victory to show for in seven decisions, due to abysmal offensive support. Milwaukee proved them last night that Washington is vulnerable in the last innings, so if the visitors manage to retire Strasburg early they can hope for a rare victory at Nationals Park.
Two scenarios for Phillies to succeed
Philadelphia travels to the nation’s capital after losing three games in a row and it is the sub-par pitching that worries the visitors. Atlanta swept them and limited their otherwise impressive batters to less than two runs per match, which is particularly frightening knowing how versatile Strasburg is. The first scenario for the Phillies to win involves an early retirement for Stephen, which is more likely to come if the visitors force him to throw a lot of pitches. Even if they don’t score a lot in the first couple of innings, Washington’s coach will prefer to retire Strasbourg earlier so he won’t stress his arm out.
Hitting a lot is a smooth strategy but this is easier said than done, despite the fact that Philadelphia has a roster featuring some of the best paid sluggers in the league. The second scenario is for Cliff to last more than seven innings, so that the hosts will once again come to rely on relievers. What happened last night is the best proof that when the bullpen steps in, things go terribly wrong for Washington. The Phillies don’t have a stellar bullpen either, still they don’t have a choice but to trust their relievers once again.
Washington has the best batting staff in MLB and Strasburg is the best starting pitcher in their rotation, but a Totals’ line of 6,5 is simply too low against Philadelphia. The visitors have too much depth to be underestimated like that and with Stephen not playing at full potential, I find the odds offered by bet365 a rare and precious gift.