As the month of September reaches its midway point, the baseball season is winding down. For some teams this means packing it in and thinking about how to improve in 2013. For other teams, like the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers, the playoff push only intensifies (game: 7.05pm ET, today).
Currently the Nationals sit comfortably atop the NL East standings but are only a few games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds for the National League’s best record and home field advantage.
The Dodgers on the other hand are on the outside looking in, though they are close to catching the San Francisco Giants for the NL West pennant and the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wildcard spot.
Here is the betting pick and preview for game three of the series with the expected pitching match-up of (LA) Josh Beckett and (WA) John Lannan.
Can Josh Beckett Return to His Old Form?
This is a question that many Dodgers fans have been worried about ever since the blockbuster trade that sent Beckett to LA along with Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.
Having seen great career years first with the then Florida Marlins and more recently the Boston Red Sox, Beckett has lately had a long career slump. On the season (combined stats from Boston and LA), Beckett is 6-13 with a 4.94 ERA and just 118 strike outs. He has also given up 18 home runs.
The Dodgers wanted to believe that part of the reason for Beckett’s bad numbers with the Red Sox was due to unhappiness in Boston and the not so positive rapport he had with the Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.
Unfortunately so far a change of scenery has not been enough to get Beckett back on track. In his four starts with the Dodgers, Beckett is 1-3 with a 4.76 ERA. He has walked at least one batter in each outing and has yet to pitch past 6.2 innings.
Against the Nationals, who boast one of the strongest teams in baseball, Beckett will no doubt continue to struggle as he attempts to make his way through their line-up, loaded with talent from one to nine.
Having played most of his career in the American League, Beckett does not have that much experience pitching against the Nationals. A good sign for him though is that with just this little experience, Beckett has been very good against the Nationals, formerly known as the Montreal Expos.
In just a handful of career starts against the Washington/Montreal franchise, Beckett is 7-1 with around a 2.50 ERA. He showed early in his career, that he was very good against this team and was able to pitch well against them on the road.
The drawback for Beckett however is that all of these wins came prior to 2007 as he has not faced the Nationals since then. This season his overall numbers are not even close to where they were when he was at the top of his game.
Here are some numbers which could come into play against the Nationals:
- On the season, Beckett is allowing an opponent’s batting average of a very high .269 per game. Against righties such as he will face in Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth, the average is a little less at only .259. He has also only given up six of his 18 home runs to righties.
- In road games, Beckett has an ERA of 5.21 and a record of 3-8. In night games, he has an ERA of 5.08 and a record of 2-11. On the contrast, the Nationals are 44-27 at home with a team batting average of .266. They are also 62-36 in night games with a .262 average.
When is the Dodgers Mega-Offense Going to Show Up?
Adrian Gonzalez. Andre Ethier. Matt Kemp. Shane Victorino. With these four guys the Dodgers should be pounding their opponents when it comes to scoring runs. The problem however is that this hasn’t been the case and as a result, the Dodgers could still be on the outside looking in when it comes to playoffs.
By his numbers, Gonzalez is having an okay season. He is hitting .289 with 16 home runs and 102 RBI. If you look at his numbers against the Nationals however on the year, Gonzo could be in for a long and hitless night.
In 2012, Gonzalez has just one hit in thirteen at bats against the Nats. He is hitting just .262 on the road but against lefties, which is what he will face in Lannan, he is hitting .302. However, most of his power has come against righties as he has hit ten home runs off of them.
Lannan has given up more hits and a higher batting average to lefties like Gonzalez and Andre Ethier, but his sample size is small as Lannan has just pitched in three games this year.
With Stephen Strasburg done for the rest of the season however because of an innings rule shutdown, Lannan will be taking on a greater role for the rest of the season. It will be up to him to pick up where Strasburg left off. Luckily enough for the Dodgers, over the course of his career, Lannan has been vulnerable to give up the long ball. With guys like Gonzalez (16 HR), Matt Kemp (18) and Ethier (19), the Dodgers could hit some home runs in this game.
What You Need to Know
- The Nationals are the toughest team to score on as they allow on average just 7.9 hits and 3.6 runs a game. On the season, they have allowed less than 530 runs. They are also ranked tenth in runs scored on the season.
- This season the Dodgers offense has not caught up to the excellent pitching. The pitchers are third best in the league allowing just 3.8 runs a game and second best in allowing just eight hits a game. The offense however is ranked 26th in runs scored on the season.
- Adrian Gonzalez is batting just .242 in his 15 games since joining the Dodgers.
- The Dodgers are 8-2 against the Nationals in their last ten head-to-head meetings including a 3-0 record in 2012.
- The Nationals and the Dodgers are both coming off losing streaks. The Nationals have lost their last three and a 5-5 in their last ten and the Dodgers lost the last game they played but are a worse 3-7 in their last ten.
- John Lannan has started and recorded a winning decision in all three of his games pitched this year.
LA Dodgers @ Washington Nationals Pick & Final Prediction
The Dodgers have been struggling down the stretch and could see their wild card hopes take a huge hit with a bad series against the Nationals. That said, the Nats still have something to play for and right now, with home field advantage in the National League on the line, they are the better team.
With the Dodgers struggles to score runs consistently and Lannan’s solid pitching in 2012, it doesn’t seem that Beckett will be able to do enough to get the Dodgers the win. He will need the team to give him run support, something that so far this season they have not done.
- Betting Picks: The Nats are the favorites but this is for good reason. Pick the Nationals to win on the standard money line for the game @ odds of -147 with BetOnline Sportsbook (all Americans can join). If you prefer to bet on the runline then the Nats are -1.5 @ odds of +140.
- Other US betting options: Bovada Sportsbook (for USA only but not residents of NY, Utah, Washington or Maryland states) money line: Dodgers +130; Nationals -150. Runline: -175 Dodgers +1.5; +145 Nationals -1.5.
- UK & Non-Americans: Bet with Bet365 Bookmaker, who bet like this on the moneyline: 100/143 Nationals, 133/100 Dodgers. Runline: 20/33 Dodgers +1.5; 29/20 Nationals -1.5.