MLB Picks 2012: Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals

The Atlanta Braves (70-51) and Washington Nationals (74-46) will open up an important National League East series on Monday night at Nationals Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 ET

Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals

The Atlanta Braves begin a huge series against the Washington Nationals on Monday night

Atlanta scored just two runs in losing the final two games of a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, including a 2-0 shutout loss at Turner Field on Sunday afternoon.  “We’re not swinging the bats real well right now,” commented Braves third baseman Chipper Jones.  The Braves have been known to go into some dry spells, with this one being caused by going hitless in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the last two contests.  Atlanta is 8-6 as a road underdog of +100 to +125 this season, but are just 2-13 on Mondays.

Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson (12-4, 3.59 ERA) has led the club to eight consecutive wins, including a 6-0 home victory over the San Diego Padres in his last effort, allowing just two hits in 6.1 shutout innings.  The right-hander is 5-1 with a 3.06 ERA in eight road starts, surrendering just four home runs in 53 combined frames.  In 25  career games versus the Nationals, Hudson has compiled an impressive 14-5 record and 2.53 ERA, but suffered an 8-4 setback at home on July 1.

Washington pushed its lead to five games in the NL East division over tonight’s opponent with a 5-2 home win over the New York Mets on Sunday, as the club was able to stay in the moment.  “Sure, we pay attention to Atlanta, but we are concentrating on what we have at hand,” commented Nationals manager Davey Johnson.  Nationals rookie outfielder Bryce Harper is starting to produce at the plate again, going 4 for 8 over the weekend, which directly followed a 3-for-32 slump.  Washington is 31-18 against divisional foes this year.

Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmerman (9-7, 2.38 ERA) is coming off a 6-1 road loss to the San Francisco Giants, allowing two runs and eight hits over 5.2 innings.  The right-hander is 2-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 11 home outings, surrendering six home runs in 68.1 combined frames.  In four career starts versus the Braves, Zimmerman has registered a winning 2-1 record and 3.09 ERA, with opposing hitters batting .212 against him.

Sports bettors will likely back the Braves due to their 5-0 mark versus division foes with Hudson on the mound, while the Nationals are 0-4 as a home favorite of -110 to -150.

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