A scary scene unfolded last night when a shooting occurred outside Nationals Park. The game between the Padres and Nationals was suspended in the sixth inning. It will resume play Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET before starting their regularly scheduled game.
This is just another reminder of how much more important some things are than guessing the outcome of sports games. Writing about baseball feels trivial after witnessing such a jarring incident unfold. Unfortunately, gun violence is a more prevailing problem than ever in the United States. Don’t lose sight of that tragedy while shifting back to baseball.
For those looking to carry on with MLB wagering, let’s start Sunday’s best bets by examining the full game at the nation’s capital.
Padres at Nationals: Moneyline
Both FanDuel and DraftKings are pegging this pitching duel between Max Scherzer and Joe Musgrove as a toss-up. Considering the Padres have procured a dozen more wins this season, that’s paying ample respect to Washington’s three-time Cy Young Award winner. Understandably so. Initially left off the NL All-Star roster, Scherzer ended up starting the Midsummer Classic. He entered the break with a 2.66 ERA and 134 strikeouts despite getting shellacked for seven runs by San Diego in his last start. He’ll now resume play against … San Diego.
Nothing against Scherzer, but nobody should want any part of the Padres right now. After returning to play with 24 runs Friday night, they handily brandish baseball’s best OBP, slugging, and wRC+ over the last 30 days. They’re a force to be reckoned with at full health, which is the case now with Tommy Pham, Wil Myers, and Eric Hosmer all back in the lineup.
Musgrove is no slouch either. The 28-year-old righty is enjoying a career year, registering a 2.93 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 98.1 innings. He also faltered against his upcoming opponent, as the Nationals tagged him for five runs on July 5. It’s still a much more manageable matchup; Washington has a 94 wRC+ against righties. Alcides Escobar has batted leadoff the first two games of the series. That may have somehow worked for the 2015 Royals, but a past-his-prime veteran with a .293 career OBP probably shouldn’t set the table.
Along with the hitting advantage, San Diego boasts MLB’s best bullpen ERA. There’s an opportunity to side with an elite team sending an ace to the mound behind a red-hot offense. If it means betting against Mad Max, so be it.
Pick: Padres (-108 on FanDuel, -110 on DraftKings)
Mariners at Angels: O/U 8.5 Runs
It may not be an All-star meeting, but Logan Gilbert vs. Patrick Sandoval is quite the pitching matchup. The former quickly recovered from a rough debut to post a 3.51 ERA and 3.19 FIP in his first 10 big-league starts. Gilbert has 53 strikeouts to 10 walks in 48.2 innings after silencing the Yankees to one hit over a career-high seven scoreless frames on July 8. While Shohei Ohtani and Jared Walsh (and even the streaking singles machine, David Fletcher) make the Angels dangerous for an opposing righty, it’s not an impossible obstacle. Gilbert stifled them to two hits and a run over five innings to record his first career win on June 6.
Sandoval, meanwhile, has already encountered Seattle twice this season. Although he was on the losing end of that Gilbert victory, the southpaw submitted a career-high 10 strikeouts. More recently, he lost on July 10 despite containing them to two runs over seven innings. He owns a 3.33 ERA in the rotation and has yet to allow more than three runs in any of his nine starts.
Seeing Sandoval work the longest outing of his season before the break is also encouraging, and perhaps vital for the under to hit. Gilbert and Sandoval pitched well on June 6, but both sides combined to score eight runs in the ninth inning of a 9-5 Mariners victory. While the bullpen remains a sore spot for the Angels, the Mariners rank second in FIP behind sudden breakout stars Kendall Graveman and Paul Sewald. Let’s count on a well-pitched bout between two rising young hurlers and bet against another late offensive onslaught.
Pick: Under (-105 on DraftKings)
Giants at Cardinals: O/U 8.5 Runs
Everyone is eventually going to have to take the Giants seriously. It’s the second half, and they’re still hanging onto a narrow lead over the Dodgers and Padres in the NL West. They’re an MLB-best 58-33 with a plus-119 run differential trailing only the Dodgers, Astros, and White Sox.
They’re also slated to face Wade LeBlanc. After allowing 100 runs in 143.2 innings over the last two years, he can legitimately call his current 4.78 ERA a significant improvement. However, it comes with a 5.8 K-BB%, 5.41 FIP, and 5.25 SIERA. He has six strikeouts to seven walks in three starts since moving back into the Cardinals rotation late last month and will face a Giants lineup ranked sixth in wRC+ against lefties this season.
It’s intriguing to bet an outright Giants victory (-118 on FanDuel and -120 at DraftKings). However, there’s a higher potential payout with the run line. Johnny Cueto just surrendered five runs to the Diamondbacks and four to the Cardinals before the break. He’s cooled down considerably, recording a 4.97 ERA and 1.48 WHIP since returning from the IL in early May. Opponents are hitting .341/.386/.553 against him on the road this season. That’s particularly troubling since most of that damage came at Arizona, Pittsburgh, and Washington. (He somehow had his best road start against his former team at Cincinnati.)
The Giants should be bigger favorites, but a brand-name offense of their caliber would also inspire a loftier run line against LeBlanc.
Pick: Over (-110 on DraftKings, -110 on FanDuel)
Andrew Gould Overall Record: 26-22
Net Money (Assuming all wagers are $100): +$567.02
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)