Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:30 AM EST.
7:05 PM EST. The Nationals clinched the NL East on Sunday, had a day off on Monday, got whacked by the Braves on Tuesday and they have the Dodgers coming in on Thursday. This is a team that was never threatened all season, thus they’ve been on cruise control since May. Sure, there have been some big games and series just because the opposition was interesting but for the most part, the Nats march to the division crown has been one without threat all year long. The last thing left for the Nats to do before the playoffs begin is to finish with the best record in the NL in order to secure home-field advantage should the Dodgers and Nats play for the NL Pennant. Washington is 2½-games behind L.A. and again, the Dodgers come in here on Thursday. The point is that the Nats intensity level is low and likely won’t pick up until Thursday when the stadium is filled and the Dodgers are the opposition.
Then we have Max Scherzer, who is the reason for this near 3-1 line. With 238 K’s and a mere 46 walks in 178 frames to go along with a 2.32 ERA, Scherzer is the absolute straight goods and may slay this lineup like he slays most lineups. However, it was unknown if Scherzer was even going to make this start because of a calf injury. As it turns out, he will be and it’s probably not even a concern because if it was, the Nats would not send him out there for such a meaningless start. That said, Washington is much more concerned about October than September, and Scherzer might throw fewer innings this month and especially in this start than we’ve become accustomed to. This, therefore, becomes a decent gamble at a great price.
Luiz Gohera will make his second major league start after getting whacked in his first start. Pitchers making their debuts are extremely unpredictable because of nerves, anticipation, excitement and all the other things that go with making it to the big show. We never put much emphasis on a poor debut and we’re not going to start now because this is a great prospect with filthy stuff.
Gohara was acquired from the Mariners in January 2017 and was seemingly just another very good arm in the deep Braves system. He turned himself into an even better prospect after dominating on three levels of the minors. The hard-throwing lefty has always had the ingredients to be a stud bulldog. However, poor conditioning (he was chubby) limited him in the past. He made a commitment to better conditioning last off-season and it’s paid off. While he still has work to do with his large frame, he easily eclipsed his previous career-high in innings. Gohara can reach the 96-98 mph range with his fastball from his three-quarter arm slot. It is a legitimate plus pitch and he’s done a nice job of throwing strikes with it. Adding to his effectiveness is his slider which is now considered a plus pitch as well. It misses bats due to its late break. Gohara is aided by a deceptive delivery which makes him even more dangerous. He has vaulted up prospect charts, as he’s starting to put everything together. In the minors at Triple A before the call-up, Gohara was whiffing 12.2 batters per nine innings while holding the opposition to a .219 average. Even in that aforementioned first start, he struck out six batters in four frames with an 18% swing and miss rate. That alone makes him very worthy of taking back a tag like the one being offered here.
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Atlanta +248 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 4.96)