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Washington Nationals vs. San Diego Padres Odds & Pick: August 17th 2017

Washington Nationals vs. San Diego Padres
MLB Pick: San Diego -107 odds (August 17th 2017)
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The Washington Nationals will open a seven-game road trip with the first of four on Thursday night against the Padres In San Diego. Washington has lost Bryce Harper to a deep knee bruise but Stephen Strasburg is expected to rejoin the rotation this weekend. The Nationals lost 3-2 loss to the Angels on Wednesday, ending a nine-game hometand at 6-3. Washington owns a 13 1/2-game in the NL East and will take its impressive 36-22 road record into San Diego, which opened its seven-game homestand this week by by completing a three-game sweep of Philadelphia (owners of MLB’s worst record at 43-75), winning the series finale 3-0 on Wednesday. The 54-66 Padres sit 31 1/2 games back of the Dodgers in the NL West.

Edwin Jackson (3-2, 3.86 ERA) will start for Washington and Jhoulys Chacin (11-8, 4.06 ERA) for San Diego. Jackson signed a minor league deal with the Nationals on June 16, 2017, making it his second stint with the franchise. After several outings with the Class-AAA Syracuse Chiefs, allowing just one ER in 20.1 innings of work (0.44 ERA), Jackson was promoted to the Nationals’ major league roster to take injured starter Joe Ross’ rotation spot for a July 18 start. Jackson’s signing has turned out to be a shrewd move by the Nationals, who are 3-2 in his five starts since he was inserted into an injury-plagued rotation. He registered his third quality start with Washington by limiting San Francisco to one run on five hits over six innings last time out.

Chacin rebounded from a rocky outing in a loss at Cincinnati on Aug 7 (allowed five ERs over six innings  in an 11-3 loss) to hold the Dodgers to just one run and four hits over five innings in a no-decision last time out (LA won 6-3). Prior to the setback versus the Reds, he was 5-0 during a six-start span while giving up a combined eight ERs (Padres were 6-0 and Chacin’s ERA was 2.02). Chacin did not factor in the decision at Washington on May 28, allowing three runs on eight hits across 4.1 innings and is 3-2 with a 3.43 ERA in seven career starts vs the Nats.

Now here’s the rub. Jackson has certainly been an excellent addition for the Nats but how can one ignore that he’s 0-6 with a 6.98 ERA in 10 career starts vs the Padres (teams are 1-9)? As for Chacin, save that start against Cincy on Aug 7, his ERA sits at 1.99 over his other seven starts in an eight-start stretch since the beginning of July. I’ll back the home team.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays MLB Betting Odds & Pick from Larry Ness: August 16th 2017

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays
MLB Betting Pick: Toronto -135 odds (August 16th 2017)
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The Tampa Bay Rays broke out of an offensive slump with 13 hits in Tuesday’s 6-4 victory in the second game of their four-game series in Toronto against the Blue Jays. Tampa Bay is currently 1 1/2 games behind the LA Angels, while Toronto, which fell to 8-5 in August, remains on the fringe of the AL wild-card race at 3 1/2 games back but with seven teams ahead of them. With Tuesday’s result, the teams have split 14 meetings this season.

Rookie Jacob Faria (5-3, 3.19 ERA) will get the start for the Rays and Marcus Stroman (10-6, 3.00 ERA), who owns a 1.98 ERA in two starts against Tampa Bay this year, goes for Toronto. Faria began his career 5-1 over his first nine starts (team was 7-2) but is win-less in his last three outings, allowing nine ERs over 16 innings (5.06 ERA) to go 0-2 (team is 1-2). Faria made his second career start against Toronto back on June 13, permitting one run on six hits with eight strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings of an 8-1  victory. Stroman has posted just one victory in his last six games (Jays are 3-3) but also has just one loss in that span, a setback against Pittsburgh this past Friday in which he surrendered four unearned runs over eight innings. Stroman is 4-4 with a 4.17 ERA against the Rays in nine career starts (team is 4-5).

The Rays may have produced 13 hits and six runs last night but that came against Marco Estrada, who is now 0-4 with a 10.61 ERA against the Rays this season and is 0-7 with a 7.75 ERA in his past eight starts against them! Let’s not ignore that Tampa Bay had been in a prolonged slump just prior to last night’s outburst, having scored only 12 runs in their previous 10 games, eight of them losses. That includes a 2-1 defeat at Toronto on Monday. Stroman has 15 Ks in 13.2 innings against the Rays in two 2017 starts as well as that 1.98 ERA. Meanwhile, Faria seems to be losing some of his earlier mojo. Take the Blue Jays.

Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics Betting Odds & Pick: August 15th 2017

Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics
MLB Betting Pick: KC -113 odds (August 15th 2017)
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The set-up: The Royals saw their losing skid reach five games when they lost the Friday opener of their three-game series in Chicago against the White Sox. However, KC rebounded by winning Saturday and Sunday and last night, took the first of a three-game series in Oakland against the A’s, 6-2. The three-game winning streak has allowed the Royals to climb back into a virtual second-place tie with the Twins in the AL Central, five games back of the first-place Indians. More importantly, both the Twins and Royals are just a half-game back of the Angels for the AL’s second wild card spot. Kansas City hopes to bolster its wild-card position when it when it continues its series tonight in Oakland against the 52-67 A’s. Oakland fell to 2-5 on its nine-game homestand and owns the AL’s second-worst record, better than only the 45-70 White Sox.

The pitching matchup: Jason Hammel (5-9 & 4.68 ERA) will get the nod for KC and Chris Smith (0-2 & 5.29 ERA) goes for Oakland. Hammel’s year has been a huge disappointment, as the Royals are 7-16 in his 2017 starts, giving him MLB’s 8th-worst moneyline mark (minus-$758). However, he’s actually been fairly solid for quite awhile now, as he’s allowed three runs or less in 12 of his last 13 starts (KC is just 6-7, though). Hammel is 2-2 in four lifetime against Oakland with a 5.14 ERA. Smith remains in search of his first major-league victory since 2008 with Boston, after being ripped for five runs on seven hits (including 4 HRs!) over six innings in a 7-2 loss to Baltimore on Thursday. The 36-year-old has allowed 16 ERs on 25 hits over 21 innings of his last four appearances (three starts), for a 6.86 ERA. He’s made two two career relief appearances versus Kansas City but this is his first start.

The pick: Getting the AL’s two-worst teams in back-to-back series has allowed the Royals to win three of four so far and I’m ‘on board’ with the idea that KC will win Tuesday and Wednesday in Oakland, as well. First things first. Hammel has settled down lately (see above) and should be good enough to help KC to a win in this one.