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Nationals And Dodgers Both Look For A Second-Half Surge This Friday

Posted by Dale "Skip" Lalonde on 7/18/2013 7:22:01 PM

The Washington Nationals are one game above .500, while the Los Angeles Dodgers are right at the break-even mark. Both teams begin their second-half journeys this Friday night.

Los Angeles Dodgers @ Washington Nationals – Friday, July 19
Sport betting line: No line

Why Los Angeles Will Win

When the best online betting sites tackle this clash, they will certainly give the Dodgers a legitimate chance to win, and not just because the boys in Blue have scrambled back to the .500 mark after a horrible beginning to the season. The biggest reason to go with Los Angeles here is that it has the more in-form pitcher at the moment.

Just before the All-Star break, the Dodgers acquired starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco from the Miami Marlins, giving the pitcher a chance to compete in a playoff race. Nolasco has been solid in his two starts for Los Angeles, giving up a total of four runs in 12 innings. His ERA is 3.76. Nolasco’s opponent, Stephen Strasburg, is the owner of an impressive 2.99 ERA, but it has to be said that Strasburg has been poor in his last two starts, giving up 11 runs in eight innings of very ineffective mound work. Nolasco, in terms of current form, is riding the wave at the moment, but Strasburg has produced the better overall season over the course of three and a half months.

The key point to emphasize is not Nolasco’s current level of performance – and how it’s better than Strasburg’s – but that Nolasco is a liberated athlete. What does this mean? Nolasco has been rescued from a bottom-rung franchise. In a heartbeat, he was catapulted from a team that was going nowhere to a team that has a realistic shot of making the playoffs. This change of scenery is the precise thing that gives a professional athlete extra incentive to perform well and with great determination. Nolasco will be a tough customer for the Nationals and their struggling hitters.

Why Washington Will Win

This is a tricky betting play at any sports book, but Washington certainly has a chance to come out on top. For one thing, the All-Star break will give Strasburg an extra day in between starts, so his arm – which did not have his best stuff in the two bad starts mentioned above – should be a little fresher for this contest. The All-Star break can also serve as something of a mental breather, a time for Strasburg to regain a little perspective and enjoy some down time. Since this is a home game for Washington, Strasburg will have freedom from travel for a few days. He and the rest of the Nationals can benefit from this period of extended rest. Washington has been climbing uphill all season, and even thought the Nationals are several games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East, they’re still very much within striking distance. They’re not 16 games out of first; they’re six games out. The second half of the season can become a time of renewal for this team, translating into a strong performance against the Dodgers.

Who Will Win

The hunger of Nolasco is a powerful intangible factor in this game, and the Nationals’ level of hitting does not inspire confidence that they can outclass Nolasco on Friday. Pick the Dodgers.

MLB Betting Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers

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