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Braves Nationals Betting Tips - Nationals, Atop The National League East, Host Second-Place Braves

Posted by Dale "Skip" Lalonde on 7/16/2012 4:23:48 PM

The Atlanta Braves have been trailing the Washington Nationals for the past few months in the National League East. The Braves will try to make a charge this weekend in the nation's capital.

Atlanta Braves @ Washington Nationals – Series Overview

Game 1: Friday, July 20

If you are interested in betting on baseball this season, the upcoming three-game weekend series between Atlanta and Washington will give you some high-profile contests to examine. The Nationals have the best record in the National League, but the Braves would also make the playoffs if the season ended today. In the first game of this series, the Braves will send right-handed starter Tommy Hanson to the bump. Hanson has posted a 4.02 earned-run average to this point in the season, being an entirely solid pitcher but not a shutdown force. On the other hand, Stephen Strasburg has been even better on the youthful and electrifying starting staff of the upstart Nationals.

Strasburg has posted a 2.66 ERA and has justified so much of the hype he generated when he hit the big leagues a few years ago. Strasburg's rise to form has been one of the main reasons the Nationals have been able to rise to the top of the National League East and, for that matter, the National League. It only stands to reason that in a clear-eyed comparison of these two pitchers, Strasburg will take control and enable Washington to get the jump on Atlanta in this high-profile clash.

MLB Betting Pick: Washington

Game 2: Saturday, July 21

When you do your homework and assess your sports bet on this second game of the three-game series, you have to pay attention to Atlanta starter Ben Sheets. The veteran threw six scoreless innings in the first start of the year after being plucked from the Oakland Athletics. Sheets allowed two hits in six innings against the New York Mets this past Sunday to earn a victory for the Braves in his first major-league appearance since 2010. Sheets didn't play in the majors in either 2009 or 2011.

With the win on Monday, the Elias Sports Bureau noted that he became the first pitcher to start a game in the majors after twice missing entire seasons at age 30 or older since Scott Erickson in 2004. The Nationals' starter in this game, Edwin Jackson, has been a decent workhorse for Washington.  Jackson carries a 3.73 ERA into this contest, meaning that one can expect a solid start from him, just not a dynamic one. If one had to lay odds on this game, they'd be fairly even. Atlanta is the choice on Saturday in game two of this series for one prevailing reason: Sheets' fresh arm is something the Nationals haven't seen. Washington might adjust to Sheets later in the season, but in this game, the Nationals will struggle.

MLB Betting Pick: Atlanta

Game 3: Sunday, July 22

Jair Jurrjens is Atlanta's starter in the final game of this set. He has a 4.97 earned-run average, which might initially seem to be cause for considerable concern, but Jurrjens – who was injured in late April and spent two months on the shelf – has been very strong since returning to Atlanta's starting rotation. The Nationals have not settled on a starting pitcher in the series finale. In the absence of such clarity, the Braves are the choice for the Sunday matinee in this divisional battle.

Read more on the latest sportsbook odds for Major League Baseball this season.

MLB Betting Pick: Atlanta

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