The Washington Nationals look to right themselves as they push for a postseason berth when they take on the host Minnesota Twins in the middle game of a three-game series on Wednesday. The Nationals have dropped six of their last eight at the most important time of the season, including Tuesday’s 5-0 setback to Minnesota.
Despite the slump, the Nationals are currently in the first Wild Card spot in the National League, 2.5 games ahead of the Chicago Cubs. Washington is likely not going to be able to catch Atlanta in the National League East standings, as the Nationals enter Wednesday with a 9.5-game deficit in the division. Minnesota is sitting in a little better position, currently in first place in the American League Central, five games ahead of second-place Cleveland.
The moneyline for this contest has the Washington Nationals -145 and the Minnesota Twins +135. The over/under for the game has been set at 10.
Ace On The Mound
The Nationals will turn to Stephen Strasburg to get the start for this one, with the right-hander going for this 17th win of the season. Strasburg is 16-6 on the season with a 3.50 ERA, and he ranks second in the National League in both innings pitched (185) and strikeouts (222). He is coming off a loss to Atlanta last week in which he went six innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits and four walks, matching his season high for walks.
Offense has been a bit of a problem for the Nationals lately, as they’ve scored more than three runs just four times in their last eight outings, including being shut out Tuesday. Anthony Rendon leads the National League in batting average at .335 and is third in RBI with 114, but he has just two RBI over the past week. Juan Soto could carry Washington if he can get his power stroke going, as he has a team-high 33 home runs to go with 101 RBI and 98 runs scored.
Minnesota continues to inch towards the AL Central title, though it doesn’t make it easy on itself. The Twins dropped two of three to Cleveland over the weekend to make things a little tighter in the standings, and the two teams will face off again for a three-game series this weekend. Martin Perez takes the mound for the Twins in this one, sporting a 10-6 record with a 4.75 ERA and having won two of his last three decisions. Perez has been mostly solid of late, though he has had two starts in the last month-plus in which he allowed seven earned runs.
Minnesota has been hitting home runs better than every team in baseball for most of the season, though the Yankees are currently tied with the Twins for the most in baseball (276). Mitch Garver hit his 30th home run of the season Tuesday, joining Max Kepler (36) and Nelson Cruz (35) to give Minnesota its first trio of players with at least 30 home runs since 1987, the year the team won its first World Series. Kepler sat out Tuesday’s game after leaving Sunday’s contest with upper-chest discomfort and is considered day-to-day, while Cruz returned to the lineup for the opener after missing the last two games with a wrist injury.
Nationals Get Win
Washington has one of the best pitchers in the game on the mound for this one in Strasburg, and that should help the Nationals get back to the win column. Minnesota is dealing with a few injuries, while Washington is due for a breakout game offensively. I’m taking Washington -145 to get the win.