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Pitchers’ Duel on Tap For Cards-Nats?

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Updated: .July 2, 2017

By Charles Jay

Well, the St. Louis Cardinals appear to have gotten rolling a bit, and in the National League Central, where no one has taken a firm grip on things, that is of tremendous benefit. The argument can be made that they are playing with more of a sense of urgency right now than are the Washington Nationals, who still have a sizable lead in the NL East. These teams will meet up on Sunday night in the ESPN-televised game that begins at 8:05 PM ET at Busch Stadium.

Of course, those people who are customers at America’s Bookie will have the opportunity to place wagers even after the game has started, utilizing the two “Live Betting” options that are available in the sportsbook interface.

The Cardinals won a pitchers’ duel on Saturday, as Michael Wacha threw six innings of shutout ball at the Nats in a 2-1 victory. That now makes six wins in the last seven games for the Cards, who are now 39-41 and 3.5 games off the lead in the Central. The Nats (47-34) are 7.5 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves and 8.5 in front of the Mets, and they have lost three games in the standings to each of them over the last ten.

Two very capable pitchers will do battle on Sunday night. For the Nationals, it is two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (9-5, 2.06 ERA) going up against Carlos Martinez (6-6, 2.88 ERA) of the Cardinals. And in the baseball betting odds that have been posted on this game, the visiting team is favored:

Washington Nationals (Scherzer) -140
St. Louis Cardinals (Martinez) +120

Nationals -1.5 Runs (+130)
Cardinals +1.5 Runs (-150)

Under 7.5 Runs -125
Over 7.5 Runs +105

The Cards go for their fifth straight victory behind Martinez, who has made his last three starts on the road, going six innings in each, and surrendering five runs on 14 hits. But his last outing at home was brilliant, as he tossed a four-hit shutout over the Philadelphia Phillies. You say that was a weak sister he exploited? Okay, his previous start at Busch Stadium was a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team with the best record in the National League, whom he limited to one run on four hits in eight innings.

Martinez has a 1.85 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and .174 BAA (batting average against) at home this season. So clearly this is not going to be a pushover for this Washington lineup, which has averaged 5.5 runs a game as the visitor.

Scherzer, of course, is having the kind of season where he could well pick up his third Cy Young Award. While Martinez is seventh in the majors in earned run average, Scherzer is right at the top, and he is second in WAR (Wins Against Replacement) among all players. And while Martinez has surrendered the third fewest hits per nine innings in all of MLB (6.43), Scherzer has been BY FAR the stingiest (5.15). He is also the major league leader in WHIP ratio, and has held opponents to a .146 batting average on the road.

This is clearly one of those “strength vs. strength” matchups, and we are hesitant to lay the price with the road team. At the same time, we don’t want to cross Scherzer either, but we can obviously visualize that with the national TV audience, these guys may bear down even more than usual. So we’re okay laying the price and going UNDER the 7.5 runs, as the Charles Jay / America’s Bookie Challenge continues.

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