For the last two-and-a-half years I’ve been making most of these picks from Uganda, where I’ve been working and continuing to handicap baseball. It hasn’t been easy to stay in the black and profits have shrunk but I’m coming home on Tuesday and am looking forward to winning more often, especially given our slow start this season.
I don’t love the card on Sunday so I’m opting for Sunday Night Baseball among three possible plays because 1) it’s no worse than the other two and 2) I care about the junkies. It’s also a great pitching matchup with Max Scherzer vs. Carlos Martinez.
Washington set a Major League record for runs in a month this April. Almost everybody outperformed their usual production but, maybe more importantly, everyone was healthy. Adam Eaton was leading off, Jayson Werth was in left field and Trea Turner was running wild.
Werth has been an All-Star, Turner will be an All-Star and I’d be willing to bet Eaton made it in Little League. Actually, Eaton might be the best of the three. I mention them because they’re all out at the moment. Eaton is done for the year; Turner could come back at the end of the regular season; Werth will be back before then. But none will be in the lineup tonight, however.
Turner was the latest to go down and the Nats have had a lot of trouble since. They’ve scored just one run in each of the first two games in St. Louis and it feels like Dusty Baker is at least a bit to blame. He has Michael Taylor and Brian Goodwin, Eaton and Werth’s replacements, hitting in the first two spots in the order.
The three guys I mentioned might be out but the Nats still have Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon. It seems silly to give the two most at-bats to replacements when you still have four really good players in your lineup. Zim and Murphy can’t run but they get on base and there isn’t any good reason not to move Harper and Rendon up. If the Toothpick is going to hit Harper third in front of two scrubs, he might as well bat him leadoff.
That might not be completely fair to Goodwin, who is putting up a .264/.344/.518 but Taylor would certainly be better at the bottom of the lineup where he can swing away a little bit and run more in front of Matt Wieters and Stephen Drew.
I’m just not high on the Nats’ lineup, based on who’s in it and how it’s constructed. And that confidence shrinks further when they’re up against Carlos Martinez. But Scherzer is even better and the Cardinals have seen better days, too. I’ve got this total at 7.0 with some juice on the under.
Free Pick: Under 7.5 (-115)