Who could have guessed that a late-June meeting between these two teams would be so important? These two are rivals because of their proximity to each other, but this guy hasn’t meant much in the past few years. Washington now holds a small lead in the NL East, and Baltimore is second in the tough AL East. Clearly, this game means a lot in 2012.
Washington has risen to the top of the difficult NL East due to its tremendous pitching. The Nationals lead the majors in team ERA at just 3.01. They have received 46 quality starts from their starting rotation, which is also the best mark in the majors. Edwin Jackson doesn’t receive the fan fare that some of the other starters receive, but he has an impressive 3.02 ERA this year. Jackson’s success ties closely to the fact that he is issuing far fewer walks in 2012.
The Nationals average just 3.85 runs per contest. Ian Desmond leads the team’s regulars with a mediocre .265 batting average. Bryce Harper has an impressive .369 on-base-percentage through his first 178 major league at-bats. The injury to Jayson Werth leaves this team missing a key contributor in the middle of the order. If this team is going to stay at the top of the division, the offense is going to have to step up their contribution a bit moving forward.
The Baltimore Orioles no longer sit in first place in the AL East, but it isn’t really because they have played bad baseball. The Yankees ten-game winning streak catapulted them to the top of the division, but the Orioles remain within striking distance. Wei-Yin Chen’s first season in the majors has been a major success thus far. Chen leads the team with 7 wins, and he has an impressive 3.36 ERA. The Baltimore pitching staff was expected to be a major weakness for this team, but they have surprised everyone. The Orioles have a solid team ERA of just 3.78.
Adam Jones is having a monster season for the Orioles. Jones is hitting .302 with 18 homers and 39 RBI’s. Chris Davis is having a bounce back season after not playing much the past two seasons. Davis has 12 homers already this year, and he only had 6 home runs in 2010 and 2011 combined. The team couldn’t be happier to have second baseman Brian Roberts back in the lineup. Roberts was one of the best in the game before suffering severe problems with concussion symptoms, and the team hopes he can regain his old form.
MLB Free Pick: Baltimore ML
Chen is 4-0 with a 2.72 ERA at home this season. The Nationals have been terrible against lefties so far this year. I like the home team to come out with a win here.