The Washington Nationals continue their three-game series with the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on Tuesday night, with the Nats looking to take a 2-0 lead.
Washington got a leg up over the Giants on Memorial Day, as Tanner Roark was borderline flawless during a 3-0 win. Roark struck out six batters and scattered six hits across seven frames, while allowing zero runs to earn his fifth win of the year.
Ryan Zimmerman got the scoring started with a second-inning homer off of Matt Moore, while Daniel Murphy was responsible for two more runs in the win. The victory handed the Nats their 6th win in their last 10 games, while also boosting their road record to a strong 15-10.
The Nats didn’t exit this game without some hiccups, as star masher Bryce Harper got into an on field spat with pitcher Hunter Strickland after getting beaned in the hip with a pitch. Both teams hit the field in a brawl that could end in player suspensions, as well as some bad blood.
The latter will be the key storyline heading into Tuesday night’s showdown, as the Giants hope to steal a win and add to a 13-12 home record:
Washington Nationals (+109)
San Francisco Giants(-119)
This game could obviously be impacted by a possible Bryce Harper suspension, although nothing has been made official as we dive into this matchup. That might not derail the Nats too much, as both offenses could be contained slightly by a pitcher’s park and some quality pitching toeing the rubber.
Washington still sports the severe offensive edge, of course, especially when both arms in Gio Gonzalez (3-1, 2.90 ERA) and Jeff Samardzija (1-6, 4.50 ERA) could easily hold the other side in check.
This matchup tends to favor the Nats even more, however, as Shark is the far more combustible arm and has seven starts this year where he’s given up three or more runs. Samardzija is a tough nut to crack, as he certainly can make batters miss (8+ Ks in five straight starts), but he’s always given up loads of contact and that hasn’t changed lately. The Shark has had a few gem outings, but lately he’s still gotten knocked around, with three of his last four games giving up 6+ hits and 3+ runs.
None of that sounds great when a dangerous Nats lineup comes to town, especially when Samardzija hasn’t enjoyed any success against this particular unit. Harper taking a seat could change that, but Shark is 0-3 with a nasty 7.00 ERA across his last 18 innings against this team. To make matters worse, Washington is tied for the most homers against right-handed pitching and also sports the fourth best batting average against righties.
Samardzija has proven to be better at his home park, but it’s a slim margin and this is a terrifying matchup. It doesn’t help that his own offense could struggle with run support, either. Gio Gonzalez isn’t unreachable, but he’s managed games well in 2017 and comes in with a healthy 2.90 ERA under his belt. He’ll also be in the same pitcher’s park against a relatively soft San Francisco offense.
The kicker is the Nats are the underdog in this spot. Short of a Bryce Harper suspension somehow derailing a loaded Washington lineup, we’re not biting. We love the Nats and the value we get in this bet. We can probably chase the Over despite the pitching and park, too, simply because Samardzija can always implode.
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