Rays at Nationals – MLB Pick for June 5th
The Washington Capitals took a 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup in D.C. last night, and now it’s the Nationals that will be looking to get into the win column in our nation’s capital. The Nats will begin a midweek interleague series against the Tampa Bay Rays with ace Max Scherzer on the mound. The Rays will counter with right-hander Nate Eovaldi.
Mad Max was dominant in his last start, posting 8 scoreless innings while allowing just 2 hits and fanning 12 Baltimore Orioles in a 2-0 victory. Scherzer is now 9-1 on the year with a 1.92 ERA and a WHIP of just 0.85. He’s 33 now, but Scherzer seems to be getting better and better as he ages. On the season, the right-hander has an unreal strikeout rate of 38.7 percent, which leads all of baseball. Scherzer has made 12 starts on the year, and he’s struck out 10 or more hitters in 8 of those.
I think it’s fair to make the argument that Scherzer is now the best pitcher in baseball. If he has a weakness, it’s that he’s a fly ball pitcher that will allow some home runs. Scherzer was tagged for 22 homers last year after surrendering 31 in 2016. He’s allowed 6 this season, which obviously isn’t bad at all.
He’ll be facing a Rays lineup today that lacks some punch. Tampa Bay does have a few power hitters that can potentially take advantage of Scherzer’s home run tendencies, but I fully expect him to mow this group down tonight. While the Rays can be pesky, they’ve also struck out nearly 22 percent of the time this season against right-handed pitching.
Scherzer will be opposed by a fireballer in Eovaldi. Eovaldi was once a promising prospect that has had his career sidetracked a bit by injury issues. He made his first start since 2016 last week and pitched quite well. He lasted 6 no-hit innings while striking out 4 in a 6-0 win over the Oakland A’s. That’s no small feat, as the A’s have one of the most potent lineups in all of baseball.
Eovaldi missed last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing all of 2017 and the beginning of this season. Eovaldi was on a pitch count for his season debut, which is why he was pulled after throwing just 70 pitches. The right-hander threw 71 pitches in his last minor league rehab outing.
One would imagine he will have a little longer leash tonight in Washington, though it’s not like they’re suddenly going to let him ramp it up to 100 pitches. I would expect Eovaldi to potentially top out around 80-85 pitches in this spot. Despite being a hard-thrower, Eovaldi has never been a guy to rack up big strikeout numbers. He has a career K-rate of just 17 percent at the major league level.
That said, I like his pitch mix and I think he has the kind of stuff that can keep hitters off balance. The Nationals have a few potent bats in the lineup, but they’re also incredibly short-handed at the moment. The Nats are without a number of their best hitters, including Adam Eaton, Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman, Matt Wieters and Howie Kendrick. They still have Bryce Harper, but this is generally a watered-down lineup compared to what we’re used to seeing.
This game comes with a low total of 7 runs, but I think even that is too high. I’d be shocked if Scherzer surrendered more than a couple runs, while Washington has a strong bullpen going behind him. I’m also a believer in Eovaldi’s talent, and that combined with the weakened Washington lineup has me liking the under in this game. So, that’s the bet.
$100 Stake Could Win...