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National League Contenders Lock Horns In The Nation’s Capital

Posted by Dale "Skip" Lalonde on 4/25/2013 7:31:27 PM

In a matchup of upper-tier National League teams that both made the playoffs in 2012, the Cincinnati Reds visit the Washington Nationals, intent on building late-April momentum.

Cincinnati Reds @ Washington Nationals – Friday, April 26
Sports betting line: No line

Why Cincinnati Will Win

When betting websites size up this game, they won't have to come up with overly complex reasons for picking the Reds. Homer Bailey is the starting pitcher for the Reds in this game. He has already thrown two shutouts this season – not complete games, mind you, but he went at least six complete innings in both outings. He had one disastrous start, but the ability to sandwich that stumble with two shutdown performances suggests that he’s ready to once again become a core part of a strong starting rotation, one that will put the Reds in contention for a playoff spot throughout the season. With the Los Angeles Dodgers struggling in the National League West, Cincinnati can reasonably expect to remain in the wild card chase if the St. Louis Cardinals take control of the National League Central. It’s still too early to say that Cincinnati is more of a wild card contender than a divisional contender; the larger point is that the Reds, with pitchers such as Bailey, should remain in the playoff mix for the duration of the season.

The other point to bring up in this game from a Cincinnati standpoint is that Washington pitcher Jordan Zimmermann has pitched (and won) twice against the Miami Marlins. It’s true that Zimmermann is a quality pitcher, having helped the Nationals to the playoffs in 2012. However, beating the Marlins twice in the early stages of a season could mean that Zimmermann will get tested by Cincinnati’s hitters in this contest. Zimmermann might be lulled into a false sense of security. He might trust the kinds of pitches that the Marlins missed… but which the Reds could hammer. We’ll see, but Zimmermann could be ripe for an ambush in this contest.

Why Washington Will Win

This is not high-stakes poker, given that it’s only the month of April and not August, when the pressure of a baseball season is much more substantial. However, Washington might be propelled by a sense of urgency in this game. The Nationals know that they need to stay within striking distance of the white-hot Atlanta Braves in the National League East. The awareness of needing to play well should push the Nationals to a higher level of performance. Accordingly, Washington should feel good about its chances.

It’s worth noting that on its previous road trip, Cincinnati got swept in Pittsburgh by the mediocre Pirates. The Reds lost five of their first six road games this season, a sharp contrast to their record at home in Ohio. Washington is in position to pounce on Cincinnati’s vulnerability away from The Great American Ballpark. Playing in the District of Columbia will help the Nats.

Who Will Win

It’s early in the season, but when a team is so noticeably shaky on the road, it’s hard to place a lot of trust in it. Cincinnati does not deserve to be seen as the likely winner here. Washington should earn that distinction and will probably back it up on the field.

Baseball Betting Pick: Washington



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