The Starters: Cahill (1-2, 3.70) vs. Zimmermann (1-1, 1.33)
The Line: Nats -145, DBacks +130, O/U 6.5 Runs, Nats -1.5
Starters – Jordan Zimmermann has been as dominant as any pitcher in baseball this year, giving up just one earned run in each of his first four starts of 2012. The difference for Zim has been his ability to execute pinpoint control with each of his pitches, posting a crazy 8 to 1 K/BB ratio (16/2). Giving up just the 2 walks in 27 innings combined with allowing just 17 hits (only 1 HR) has landed Zimmermann in a tie with Cliff Lee (who’s pretty good in case you didn’t know) for the 3rd best WHIP (0.70) in baseball. Cahill is a solid pitcher in his own right, punctuated by an 18-8 record and 2.97 era in 2010. However, following that season, Trevor took a step back last year, going 12-14 with a 4.16 era. The 24 year old righty has been okay so far this year with a 3.70 era in 4 starts but has had issues with his command, averaging a walk every other inning (12 BB in 24.1 innings). As bad as the National lineup has been, they are selective at the plate and will make Cahill throw strikes, that combined with the fact Zimmermann is on fire makes this a tough matchup for the Dbacks. Advantage Nationals.
Lineups – The National’s lineup has been a total liability so far this season without Mike Morse and Ryan Zimmerman. They are currently 2nd to last in the National League in both batting average (.226) and steals (8), and third to last in both Runs (74) and homers (13). The Dbacks lineup on the other hand has been pretty good, placing 9th in the NL in average (.246), 4th in Runs (104), 2nd in homers (24), and 1st in steals (21). And all of that is with Justin Upton off to a slow start (.242, 2 HR, 5 RBI) and Chris Young on the DL. Even though I do like the potential that Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore bring to the lineup, it would be crazy for me to say that the Nationals have the better lineup of the two teams right now. Advantage Diamondbacks.
Bullpens - The National bullpen has been very solid this year, with Sean Burnett, Craig Stammen, and Henry Rodriguez leading the way. They also haven’t really had any liabilities so far this year, with only one guy having an era over 5.40 (Gorzelanny 6.17) so Davey Johnson can give the ball to any of the 8 hurlers he has out there with confidence. Also you have to figure that Tyler Clippard will find his fastball control again soon and return to being the dominant set up man he was last season (3-0, 1.83 era). The Diamondbacks have a pretty nice trio of their own with Bryan Shaw, Brad Ziegler, and Craig Breslow, all three having eras under 2.50. But unlike the Nats they’ve had some liabilities to work around with Mike Zagurski and Joe Paterson combining to give up 15 earned runs in just 5 innings of work. Both bullpens have some decent arms but the Nationals have the advantage in terms of depth. Advantage Nationals.
Game Summary – Harper and Zimmermann continue to impress as the Nat’s get back on track with a Curly W at home to snap a 4-game losing streak.
Prediction: Nationals 4, Diamondbacks 3
Key Players (Stat Prediction): Zimmermann (7 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 6 K, 2 BB), Harper (2-4, HR, 2 RBI), Cahill (6 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 4 K, 3 BB), Montero (2-3, 2B, 2 RBI)
Jesse’s Picks W/L: 13 – 9
Jesse’s Picks ATS: 11 – 10