When: 8:40 EST
The Starters: Gonzalez (9-3, 2.55) vs. Friedrich (4-4, 5.65)
The Line: Nats -135, Rocks +115, O/U 10.5 Runs, Nats -1.5
Starters – Gio Gonzalez will take the mound for the Nationals tonight in an attempt to keep the Nats’ hopes of a series win alive and claim his 10th win in the process. Gio has pitched at an all-star level all season long, ranking top 10 in the National League in W, ERA, K, Opp BA, and WHIP while allowing just 1 home run in 84.2 IP. He has cooled off a little recently, allowing at least 2 ER in each of his last 5 starts, but he’s still one of baseball’s most dominant lefties. The Rockies will counter with rookie southpaw Christian Friedrich, who will be making his 10th career start at the big league level. After looking great in his first two starts with the Rockies (13 IP, 2 ER, 17 K), he’s been very hittable with just 1 quality start in his past 7 outings. The 24 year old has good stuff, but attempting to learn how to pitch to big league hitters at Coors Field is no easy task (12.60 era in 3 home starts), so he’s going to have some growing pains.
Lineups – The Nationals lineup is coming off yet another series where they struggled to score, crossing the plate just 5 times in 3 games at Camden Yards. They are now outside the NL top 10 in every major offensive statistic except home runs (8th) and slugging percentage (10th). Youngsters Harper, Lombardozzi and Desmond have all cooled off a bit while veterans Zimmerman and Morse struggle (through injuries) just to stay above the Mendoza line, not a good combination. The Rockies on the other hand have quietly been one of the NL’s best offensive teams despite injury issues for their stars Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. Colorado ranks in the NL top 5 in every major batting category and lead the league in both home runs (89) and slugging percentage (.450). Playing at Coors Field obviously doesn’t hurt their numbers but this team can hit anywhere. Advantage Rockies
Bullpens - The Washington bullpen did cough up an 8th inning lead last night to the Orioles, but they still have the third best era in the NL at 2.94. They have a really solid group of guys from top to bottom and they all seem to be settled into a role now, which makes life easier for them. They also should be getting a boost in a few weeks with the return of Drew Storen, who began throwing off a mound last week. The Rockies bullpen is currently right near the middle of the pack in the NL with a 3.83 era (9th). Their group consists of a bunch of unknown guys with the exception of former Oriole Jeremy Guthrie, who was recently demoted to the pen after a string of bad starts. Overall they have done a decent job though, this team’s problem is their starters not their relievers. Advantage Nationals
Game Summary - Gio Gonzalez pitches well to record his 10th win of the season as the National’s hitters finally step up.
Prediction: Nationals 5, Rockies 3
Key Players (Stat Prediction): Gonzalez (6 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 7 K, 2 BB), Morse (2-4, HR, 2 RBI), Friedrich (5 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 5 K, 2 BB), Gonzalez (2-4, 2B, 2 RBI)
Jesse’s Picks W/L: 42 – 29