Though the Giants currently possess first place in the NL West with a record of 58-40, their post-All-Star Break woes have got them into a much tighter race with their divisional rivals. Since their first game back from the break on July 15th, San Francisco has won just one game out of eight. This horrible stretch even included a series sweep at the hands of the lowly San Diego Padres. Although Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner have been positively dominant this season, the rest of the rotation hasn’t lived up to its hype. Jeff Samardzija, Jake Peavy, and Albert Suarez have not put San Francisco in position to win games when they're on the mound. In addition, the Giants’ best outfielder, Hunter Pence, has been sidelined by an injury since June 2nd. They haven’t faced Washington yet this season, but they do have a solid 29-17 home record, which should provide some reassurance to anyone looking to bet on the San Francisco team.
The Nationals have followed a similar storyline to the Giants. They too have had their own post-All-Star Break failures, compiling a 4-5 record since July 15th. However, Washington has been relatively healthy all season, and that has catapulted them to 58-41, which is good enough for first place in the NL East. A stacked lineup including stars like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy, along with solid role players like Jayson Werth, Ben Revere, and Wilson Ramos, has Washington in position to contend come October. Their pitching staff, which includes a 13-1 Stephen Strasburg, has also been incredibly potent and difficult for any opponent to deal with. Even Joe Ross, Washington’s fifth starter, is currently 7-4 with a 3.49 ERA – at the moment, that kind of depth is nearly impossible to find anywhere but D.C.
Journeyman Jeff Samardzija will take the mound for the Giants on Friday with the intent of turning his season back in the right direction. He started out the MLB season on fire, earning wins in seven of his first 11 starts, but has recently regressed in form. He’s won just twice in his last nine starts, and those wins were against the Diamondbacks and the Rays, both bottom feeders. Samardzija has allowed five or more runs in six of his last 10 starts, which is a recipe for disaster even with the powerful offense he has backing him up. On a more positive note, he’s 4-2 at home with a 3.83 ERA, so he’s clearly more comfortable in California. However, he’s currently allowing lefties to hit .284 off of him, which could be problematic against bombers like Murphy and Harper.
For Washington, their second-best pitcher, former Cy Young winner Max Scherzer will take the ball against San Francisco. Scherzer has compiled a 10-6 record to go along with a stellar 2.92 ERA and 181 strikeouts. He’s only given up more than two runs three times this season, and holds a 0.94 WHIP. The good news for Washington is that Scherzer has been just as dominant away from D.C. as he has been at home, with a 3.06 ERA and a 6-4 record on the road. Not only that, but he has a 1.93 ERA post-All-Star-break, proving that he hasn’t regressed one bit.
- Sports.net’s top tip: The Giants can’t seem to stop their freefall and Washington’s pitching has been just too dominant lately. A smart tip is to back the Nationals to win this one by a score of 6-1.