Nationals @ Blue Jays June 17 Free Pick


The Nationals’ lineup looks fearsome again, but it hasn’t done much more than that since getting back all of its key pieces.

Anthony Rendon has been back for a while now; Adam Eaton has been back since last weekend; and Daniel Murphy made his 2018 debut earlier this week at Yankee Stadium.

But Washington has struggled on the road against the AL East this week, splitting two games in New York and so far losing twice to Toronto at the Rogers Centre. The offense has been shutout twice in its last four games, including yesterday against Marco Estrada and a few different relief pitchers.

The Nats dropped to 2.5 games behind the Braves in the NL East on Saturday and have a final chance in Toronto to avoid a sweep. They will send Tanner Roark to the mound against Sam Gaviglio.

Free Pick

Gaviglio isn’t a household name but he’s been good this season in a limited sample size, especially at home. Gaviglio didn’t debut until the middle of May, when he made two good appearances out of the bullpen. Since then, he’s made five consecutive starts and only failed to reach the sixth inning in his last one, when he got knocked around in Tampa Bay.

That is concerning, but the first four starts were all quite the opposite. In four starts against the Athletics, Phillies, Red Sox and Yankees, Gaviglio racked up 24.1 innings and allowed only seven earned runs. He showed good control early, which has alluded him a bit in June. He struck out 22 and walked just 4 in May, compared to 7 K’s and 5 BB’s in June.

But Washington’s offense looks rusty, from Eaton, to Murphy, to even Bryce Harper, who is the middle of a funk. Of course, you never know when a lineup like that busts out and puts up double-digits but, for now, I’m relatively confidence in Gaviglio pitching well.

Six innings is the norm for his opponent, Tanner Roark. Roark hasn’t missed a start this season and has gotten at least 18 outs in all but one of them. All I see him having to worry about in this game is the long ball. He’s been giving up slightly more home runs per season over the last few years and that is where the Blue Jays can be dangerous, especially at home.

Devon Travis has homered in consecutive games and accounted for the only runs in yesterday’s 2–0 win over Max Scherzer. If Roark can keep he, Justin Smoak and Yangervis Solarte in the yard on Sunday, he should do just fine.

The 9.5 for the game is tempting, but considering we are getting an equally good number for the first 5 innings, I’m partial to keeping the bullpens out of things. If we see the relievers before the sixth, consider this one lost.

Free Pick: Under 5.5 (First 5 Innings)

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