When: 7:05 EST
The Starters: Norris (0-0, 3.46) vs. Jackson (1-0, 2.57)
The Line: Nats -155, Astros +135, O/U 7 Runs, Nats -1.5
Before I get into breaking down tonight’s series finale, I’d like to share a few thoughts from last night’s action. Jordan Zimmermann looked great again last night, allowing just one run in seven innings for the third straight start but somehow still remains winless. I’ve said since early March that Zimmermann is the X-Factor of the National’s rotation, if that proves to be true than the Nats will be playing ball in October this year because he looks like an All-Star right now. The Nationals found a way to win yet another close game in the late innings last night. I really love this team’s character, it’s approach at the plate (lead MLB in walks), it’s coach (Davey Johnson), and the way they play game. They’re learning what it takes to be winners and they’re starting to expect a win every time they take the field. On less important note, my score prediction was exact for the 2nd time in three games last night (although my key hitters couldn’t have been more wrong) so I think I may be getting the hang of this, but probably not (Please keep reading anyway).
The Nat’s have locked up their fourth straight series victory and will now set their sights on their first sweep. They will send veteran right hander Edwin Jackson to the mound to try to accomplish that feat. Jackson has been very good so far in his two starts this season, with the last one being a complete game two hitter against a tough Reds lineup. His stuff looks really sharp right now and he has been able to throw all of his pitches for strikes which isn’t always the case with him. The Astros will give the ball to righty Bud Norris to try to avoid getting swept out of Washington. Norris is solid pitcher despite being mostly unknown around the league. Bud has posted a 21-24 record (on a bad team) and a 4.30 era in his 70 career starts. Last season was his best and a drastic improvement over 2010, as he posted a 3.77 era in 186 innings. When Norris is on top of his game he is pretty unhittable, but he is often plagued by command issues that neutralize his great strike out numbers (nearly one an inning for his career) and solid opponent’s Avg. (.254 career). Both of these guys can be hit or miss but ill give Edwin Jackson the edge due to his longer track record of success and the momentum he has coming off a dominant performance last time out. The lineups are still a push, and the Nat’s bullpen is still the better of the two teams. So in the end I see the the Nationals finding a way to win another close game in the late innings and complete their first of hopefully many sweeps in 2012.
Prediction: Nationals 4, Astros 3
Key Players (Stat Prediction): Jackson (7 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 5 K, 2 BB), LaRoche (2-3, HR, 2 RBI), Norris (6 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 5 K, 2 BB), Lee (2-4, HR, 2 RBI)
Jesse’s Picks W/L: 8 – 5
Jesse’s Picks ATS: 6 – 6