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Lo Duca: Bryce Harper’s Return to D.C. Provides Good Betting Opportunity

Credit:

Bill Streicher, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Bryce Harper

  • Bryce Harper and the Phillies are +185 underdogs against the Nationals in Harper's first game in D.C. as a member of the Phillies (7:05 p.m. ET).
  • Paul Lo Duca shares a similar experience from his playing days and explains how bettors can approach this game.

Bryce Harper and the Phillies are 3-0. Each of Philiadelphia’s big acquisitions: Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Andrew McCutchen have already made a positive impact. Things are going swimmingly in the City of Brotherly Love.

But things are going to be different on Tuesday night when Harper makes his return to Washington D.C. to play his old team, the Nationals.

Obviously I didn’t have the same experience as Harper will have, but I went through something similar back in 2004 when I was traded to the Marlins by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Less than a week after I was dealt, we traveled to Dodger Stadium. I was all out of sorts, to be honest I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Of course the situation here is different. I was traded, while Harper left on his own accord. He chose another city over D.C., and the fans will remind him of that.

When I played against the Dodgers that season it was incredibly tough. I had to play for my new team in front of fans that loved me. That could have been the toughest series of my entire career, honestly.

As time went on the nervousness and pressure I felt when I was playing against the Dodgers subsided. But that initial reaction — wondering how my old teammates, coaches, friends and fans were going to react — was hard to deal with. I didn’t know if I was going to get boo’d or cheered.

A similar sentiment will be going through Harper’s head. He’ll say he’s just treating it like any other game, but the truth is that he wears his emotions on his sleeve and he’s a human being.

This isn’t any other Tuesday night, there will be added pressure on the $330 million man, no matter what he says.

The fans in D.C. will be electric on Tuesday night. Not only did Harper leave them, but he left them for a division rival! He’s a traitor in their eyes and those type of emotions are what being a fan is all about. The fans will be there for first pitch and they will be well-lubricated.

I also think National fans will have a lot to cheer for on Tuesday night. They will be behind Victor Robles and Juan Soto, the two outfielders who will be tasked with filling in Harper’s cleats and they will definitely get behind Max Scherzer.

‘Mad Max’ is coming off a dominant Opening Day performance against the Mets and he never needs extra motivation for a start anyways, so look for that fastball to be pumping.

Scherzer is the type of pitcher who lives for these moments and I have no problem backing him against any pitcher, let alone Zach Eflin. While all the cameras are in Harper’s face pregame, ‘Mad Max’ will be in the clubhouse planning his next masterpiece.

With Scherzer amped, Harper feeling the pressure and the Nationals playing with house money so to speak, I think this is a great situational spot to back the runline at plus-money as I think there’s over a 50% chance the Nationals win by two or more.

The Bet: Nationals -1.5 (+113)

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