LOS ANGELES DODGERS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS

Written by:
Payton
Published on:
Sep/06/2011
Dodgers vs Washington -147

The last time Stephen Strasburg took a major-league mound was August 21, 2010. Over a year later (and one Tommy John surgery later), arguably the most-hyped draft pick in MLB history will look to prove he is healthy and back to elite form, taking the rubber against the Dodgers Tuesday night. This is the second game of a four game series, with the Nationals taking Monday’s opener 7-2.

Sportsbook.com Line & Total: Washington -147, Los Angeles +137 & 7.5 under -120

Despite Monday’s win, Washington is currently in a major funk, having lost 10 of its past 13 games. The Dodgers, on the other hand, have won 11 of their past 14. L.A. lefty Ted Lilly has been at the heart of that resurgence, allowing only three runs in winning his past two starts. The last time he allowed more than three runs in a start was July 23, against none other than the Nationals.

Watch out for how Washington limits Strasburg in his first time back. Manager Davey Johnson has indicated he’ll throw fewer than the 70 pitches he was limited to in his final rehab start.

Lilly (9-13, 4.39 ERA) started this year dreadfully, but has picked it up recently. He had a 2.35 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in August, with 31 strikeouts in 38.1 innings. In that span, opponents had a .170 batting average against him. He has yet to pitch against the Nats this year but has a 4-3 record and 3.29 ERA against them all-time, as Washington has batted a paltry .223 off him. Lilly is definitely the play in this game against a starter who may not go more than a few innings.

Strasburg quickly established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball prior to the injury. In his much-heralded rookie debut last season he was 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 68 innings. With 92 strikeouts and only 17 walks in that span, he possesses an explosive arm. However, the Dodgers are in the bottom third in the majors in batting strikeouts, so he’ll have to be on top of his game to mow down this lineup.

 

TEXAS RANGERS (80-62, +1.5 Units) at TAMPA BAY RAYS (77-63, +4.1 Units)

 

Sportsbook.com Line & Total: Texas -120, Tampa Bay +110 & 8 under -115

 

It may be too little too late, but the surging Rays have gone 18-9 since August 8 and look to win their fourth straight when they host Texas on Tuesday night. The Rangers are just 2½ games up on the streaking Angels in the AL West and need to string some wins together to stay on top.

 

Getting the ball for Texas will be C.J. Wilson, who is seeking his second straight 15-win season. Wilson has pitched well against the Rays in his career going 3-0 with a nice 2.90 ERA. Facing Wilson will be the big right-hander, Jeff Niemann, who has a 5.79 ERA in his past three outings. Texas has been very good against right-handed starters this year going 60-40. When Wilson is on the mound as a favorite of -110 or higher, the Rangers are 33-12 over the last two seasons. Niemann has had problems winning in September, where he is 2-6 with a 5.88 ERA in his career. Tampa Bay has oddly been worse at home (38-32) than on the road (39-31) in 2011.

 

Wilson (14-6, 3.28 ERA) has been able to give the Rangers long outings all year, going at least six innings in 24 of his 29 starts. Wilson threw a gem Thursday against Tampa, starting out with five perfect innings and finishing with two runs allowed on two hits, one walk and eight strikeouts in a 7-2 victory. Wilson did reach out bare-handed for a comebacker and hurt his index finger, but X-rays later came back negative.

 

The Rays still find themselves seven games behind the Wild Card leading Red Sox, but crazier things have happened in September. Niemann (9-6, 3.69 ERA) is coming off a poor performance on Thursday against Wilson and the Rangers in which he allowed five runs and six hits over five innings in the 7-2 loss. The 6-foot-9 right-hander has limited opponents to a measly .194 batting average over his past four outings, but has been killed by the gopher ball, serving up five home runs in the 27.2 innings. Niemann has been great in night games, posting a 3.24 ERA compared to his 5.33 ERA in day games.

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