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National League East Powerhouses Clash As Nationals Visit Braves In Atlanta

Posted by Dale "Skip" Lalonde on 6/2/2013 7:18:52 PM

In 2012, the Washington Nationals eclipsed the Atlanta Braves in the race for the National League East Division championship. Atlanta is trying to turn the tables this season.

Washington Nationals @ Atlanta Braves – Saturday, June 1
Sport betting line: No line

Why Washington Will Win

When the best online betting sites tackle this clash, they will readily point out that Atlanta starter Tim Hudson is just not performing that well this season. Hudson, formerly an ace for the great Oakland Athletics teams in the first decade of the current century, has been a solid and dependable starter for the Braves in recent years. However, he is not making the grade in 2013. Weighed down by a bulging 5.37 earned-run average, Hudson is just not as effective as the Braves need him to be.

Hudson has given up at least five runs in three of his last four starts. With a lot of pitchers, the month of April is a profound struggle, and the month of May brings about a course correction in which a pitcher finds the rhythm and flow that eluded him at the beginning of the season. This progression has eluded Hudson; he’s getting worse, not better, as the season goes along. He needs to be able to halt a prolonged stretch of poor performance on Saturday night, but one should not expect him to find the answers.

It’s simply not sensible to place a lot of betting trust in an old and not-that-dominant pitcher when he hits a rough patch. When a pitcher such as Justin Verlander encounters two or three bad games in a row, it is natural to pick him to bounce back in the next game, but Hudson – at this stage of his career – should not enjoy that same benefit of the doubt. The Nationals should be able to touch him up for several runs.

Why Atlanta Will Win

This is not high-stakes poker, but there's still a certain amount of importance to a baseball game played on the first day of June when that game is a matchup of fierce division rivals who are expected to compete neck-and-neck for a playoff berth in September. The Braves and the Nationals need every bit of leverage they can get. Their head-to-head meetings are going to be valuable and important at any time of the season. Expect a veteran such as Tim Hudson to raise his level of intensity and perform better as a result. This will help the Braves to a considerable extent.

The other reason to pick Atlanta here is that Washington starter Gio Gonzalez, a strong contender for the National League Cy Young Award in 2012, is struggling at the present moment. Gonzalez recorded a 2.89 ERA last season, when he dazzled the rest of the National League. Through the month of May in 2013, Gonzalez has a 3.90 ERA. He is not as sharp as he used to be, and if he remains imprecise in this game, Atlanta will get to him.

Who Will Win?

The chance that Gonzalez could get smacked around by the Braves is real, but the chance that Hudson will get smoked by the Nationals is even greater. Expect Washington to win a high-scoring tilt.

MLB Betting Pick: Washington

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