Sunday MLB Preview – Phillies at Nationals

Bettors will be hard-pressed to find a more lopsided pitching matchup than this series finale at Nationals Park.

Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals

Philadelphia has dropped the two opening games of this series and have produced a 7-20 mark on the road since May 30.  Before this series, the Phillies were an impressive 15-6 in the nation’s capital since the start of the 2008 season.  Closer Brad Lidge blew the save in Saturday’s 7-5 loss and is now 1-1 with a 5.57 ERA and 10 saves in 14 opportunities this season.  “He’s our guy,” Manuel said.  “We’ve been working with him now for two years.”  The club dropped to 12-14 when facing left-handed starters this season (-790) and the total is 11-15 O/U in those contests.  In 2009, the Phillies went 29-16 (.644) in games started by opposing southpaws, which was the best winning percentage among all NL teams.  Philadelphia has now dropped its last five road series, with its last such win coming on June 15-17 in New York (AL).  The club is 32-24 in August the last three years (-200).

Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels is an even 7-7 with a 3.48 ERA in 21 starts this season and has led the team to four consecutive wins.  In those games, he has allowed four runs and 21 hits over 27.2 innings, while allowing just a single home run.  The left-hander produced an even 1-1 record and 2.16 ERA in six July starts, managing to strike out 40 batters in 41.2 frames.  He will be making his 11th daytime start this afternoon, going 4-2 with a 3.17 ERA.  In 17 career starts versus the Nationals, Hamels stands a dominant 9-3 with a 2.58 ERA, including a perfect 2-0 mark and 0.93 ERA in two outings at Nationals Park.  The Phillies have won each of Hamels’ last seven starts against the Nationals.

Washington has tallied 46 victories this season, which easily trumps the 32 victories registered by the club at this point last year.  By taking the first two games of this series, the Nationals are now 9-3-2 in series play at Nationals Park since April 23.  “We put ourselves in a position to be where we need to be,” Adam Dunn said.  “As far as sweeping the Phillies, we have already done a great job of taking the series.”  It may be a hard task to complete the three-game sweep, as the franchise hasn’t finished the job against today’s opponent since taking four in Montreal from August 25-28, 2003.  The starting rotation has been doing its job since the All-Star break, ranking third in the National league with a 3.25 ERA over that span.  Washington is 17-22 in day games this season (+10) and 56-76 the last three years (-330).

Nationals starting pitcher John Lannan is 2-5 with a 5.76 ERA in 14 starts this season and is making his first appearance since June 20 in replacement of rookie Stephen Strasburg.  He allowed three-straight games of double-digit hits before being demoted to the minors, allowing a combined 31 hits in 15 innings over that span.  Washington believes that Lannan lost his confidence before the demotion, as his biggest problem was getting left-handers out.  They are 28-for-75 (.373) with two home runs and nine RBIs against him this season.  The left-hander didn’t dominate in the minors, going 1-4 wit ha 4.20 ERA for Harrisburg.  In nine career starts versus the Phillies, he is a winless 0-7 with a 6.32 ERA.

The lines maker has placed the Phillies as a road favorite of -150 to -175, with the club producing a 2-6 record in this situation in 2010 (-780) and 9-16 mark the last three years (-1,650).  Washington stands at 7-3 as a home underdog of +125 to +150 this season (+650) and the total is 3-7 O/U in those contests.

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