Friday night baseball on MLB Network features the top two teams in the NL East, as viewers will be treated to regional coverage of San Francisco at Washington and Atlanta at Cincinnati.
Matchup: San Francisco Giants at Washington Nationals
Date/Time: August 22, 7:05 p.m. ET
TV: MLB Network
Probable Starters: SF: Tim Hudson (8-9, 3.03) v. WSH: Doug Fister (12-3, 2.20)
Moneyline: Washington -147
Total: 7 -110/100
It will be a fun night to be an infielder because there will be a lot of ground balls on Friday night in Washington. Over 54 percent of balls in play have been on the ground against Tim Hudson and over 47 percent against Doug Fister. The Washington Nationals have been on some kind of tear of late, with a 10-game winning streak and seven of those wins have come in one-run decisions and five have been of the walk-off variety. The San Francisco Giants, meanwhile, are right in the thick of the NL Wild Card race even though they are just 15-16 or 14-17 since the All-Star Break.
Hudson took a 1.81 ERA into the middle of June by not walking any batters and inducing a lot of weak contact. Since June 18, in a span of 11 starts, Hudson has a 4.71 ERA as regression caught up with him. He has just 35 strikeouts in 65 innings and opposing batters are hitting .310 against him over that time. Hudson will be looking for his first win since July 19 and just his second win since June 12 when he moved to 7-2. Up through June 12, Hudson had allowed more than two runs just three times in a start. Since then, Hudson has allowed two runs or less in four of his last 11 starts.
Fister’s first start of the season came on May 9, after he missed more than a month with a lat strain. Since that first start, in which Fister allowed seven runs, five earned, in 4.1 innings, he has posted a 12-2 record and a 1.89 ERA. He has issued just 14 walks in 114.1 innings over that span. Opposing batters have a .268 OBP against Fister in his last 17 starts. Fister has allowed seven runs, just four earned, in six starts since the All-Star Break. The Nationals are 5-1 in those six games.
Hudson will be facing the Nationals for the 31st time in his spectacular career. Hudson has been great against the Nationals with a 17-5 record and a 2.37 ERA. Over his last 28.1 innings against the Nationals, Hudson has allowed just two earned runs. The Giants are 14-9 for a profit of 4.43 units.
Fister will be taking on the Giants for the second time in his career and the second time this season. He threw seven shutout innings by scattering eight hits and a walk. The Nationals are 14-4 in Fister’s 18 starts for a profit of 7.74 units. That puts Fister among the best pitchers in baseball in terms of making a profit for bettors this season.
Free MLB Pick: Washington Nationals
The Nationals are rolling right along, while the Giants had a strange night on Thursday. They had to complete a suspended game and then play the regularly scheduled game before heading to Washington and getting in town real late as rain delayed the entire night. That sets up a tough spot against a very good pitcher in Doug Fister and Tim Hudson has really had a hard time with consistency of late.
Matchup: Atlanta Braves at Cincinnati Reds
Date/Time: August 22, 7:10 p.m. ET
TV: MLB Network
MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook
Probable Starters: ATL: Mike Minor (5-8, 5.16) v. CIN: Mat Latos (4-3, 3.10)
Moneyline: Cincinnati -111
Total: 7.5 -110/100
The Washington Nationals simply can’t lose right now and that has forced the Atlanta Braves to keep their sights set on the NL Wild Card chase. The night after ace Julio Teheran beat the Reds by a 8-0 score, the Braves will send struggling southpaw Mike Minor to the hill. He’ll be opposed by Mat Latos, who has thrown the ball very well since his return to the rotation on June 14. The Reds have fallen on hard times and trail the Brewers by double digits in the NL Central and are five games under .500.
Mike Minor was expected to be the anchor of the Braves rotation entering this season, but shoulder discomfort delayed his start to the year. The shoulder may be acting up again given his numbers of late. Minor started the season like the pitcher everybody expected with a 3.07 ERA over his first seven starts. Since getting blasted by Colorado at Coors Field, Minor has a 6.52 ERA over his last 12 outings. His last two starts have been better, with quality starts against both the Dodgers and the A’s and the Braves need Minor to be a contributor if they want to hang around in the playoff chase.
Mat Latos’s strikeout numbers have been down, but he’s missing the barrel of the bat more often than not and that has led to some success. Latos has been living rather dangerously as a fly ball pitcher in a park like Great American Ball Park, but his home run rate is actually the lowest it has ever been in his career. There are some signs of regression with a .233 BABIP and the declining strikeout rate, but, so far, Latos has cruised right along through most of the season. Since the All-Star Break, Latos is 2-2 with a 3.40 ERA.
Minor will be facing the Reds for the fourth time in his career and the first time in 2014. He was great against them in two starts last season with just three runs allowed in 14 innings. The Braves are 9-10 in Minor’s 19 starts for a loss of 3.20 units.
Latos will take on the Braves for the eighth time in his career. He’s 3-3 with a 3.54 ERA. He has yet to face the Braves this season. The Reds are 5-7 in Latos’s 12 starts for a loss of 2.76 units.
Free MLB Pick: Cincinnati Reds
Both of these teams have some serious problems, but the Reds are 15-14 against left-handed starters this season because of all of the right-handed bats that are in the lineup with Joey Votto out. The Braves have really struggled on the road and Latos is a difficult matchup for a team that strikes out quite a bit because Latos can get them to swing at his pitches and avoid the barrel of the bat.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.