© Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jeremy Hellickson
Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates, 7:05 p.m. ET
- Nationals (Jeremy Hellickson): -111
- Pirates (Joe Musgrove): +101
- Over/Under: 8.5
Total bettors might have some hesitation to bet this over after last night’s Nationals-Pirates game failed to go over 9.5 — despite seven runs in the first two innings. However, I have a few reasons why we could see plenty of runs tonight in Pittsburgh.
First, there are major questions with both starting pitchers. Jeremy Hellickson (2-1 3.81 ERA) overperformed before hitting the DL in early June. He should continue to regress, and he could still be feeling the effects of a norovirus that recently spread through the Nats locker room. Despite his illness, the Nats trotted him out for a start against the Marlins, who tagged Hellboy for eight earned runs in just four innings.
In a start before that one (his first off the DL), Hellickson couldn’t make it through five innings in Philadelphia. I don’t expect much from the right-hander tonight against the Bucs.
The Pirates will counter with Joe Musgrove (3-3 3.79 ERA), who returns from a short DL stint (blister). He could have issues with his finger in his return and hasn’t pitched great of late regardless. Musgrove went 1-3 with a 5.47 ERA in June — with the only stellar start coming at Petco Park against a subpar Padres offense. He threw seven shutout innings against San Diego, but still allowed seven hits and walked two. Musgrove failed to make it past the fifth inning in three of his other four June starts. The Pirates went 0-4 in those games.
That means we could see both bullpens early and often tonight, which should benefit the over. The Pirates most likely won’t have the services of closer Felipe Vazquez and setup man Edgar Santana, as both pitched each of the last three days. That doesn’t leave too many reliable arms outside of Kyle Crick and Richard Rodriguez (who pitched 1.1 innings on Monday). Just take a look at their options:
- Michael Feliz just came off the DL, but didn’t throw his bullpen session the other day and may head back shortly.
- Steven Brault has struggled of late, posting a 5.91 ERA over his last seven games — in which he has allowed 10 hits and nine walks over just 10.2 innings.
- Tyler Glasnow has struggled even more recently with an 9.00 ERA over his last seven appearances.
- Alex McRae has never thrown a pitch in the majors.
If Musgrove can’t provide length, a healthy Nationals offense should take advantage.
Washington’s pen also has issues, as Nats relievers have thrown a ton of innings over the past week. (Washington even had infielder Mark Reynolds pitch an inning on Sunday.) Five of their past six starters have failed to make it past the fifth inning. This is also the 13th game in 13 days for the Nats, who haven’t had a day off since June 27. That’s a lot of work for a seven-man pen.
I see too many ways this one gets to at least nine runs to pass up on the over.
The pick: Nationals/Pirates Over 8.5