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MLB Picks and Bets: Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals

Mar 31, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper (3) reacts as he crosses home plate in front of Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann (16) after hitting a home run during the seventh inning at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Phillies OF Bryce Harper makes a much-anticipated return to take on the Washington Nationals Tuesday at Nationals Park. It’s Harper’s first time facing his former team since signing a 13-year, $330-million free-agent contract late in the offseason.

The Phillies have started the year 3-0 with their prized signing, while the Nationals are 1-2 heading into the two-game set. First pitch comes at 7:05 p.m. Eastern.

Odds provided by FanDuel

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals: Projected Starting Pitchers

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

RHP Zach Eflin vs. RHP Max Scherzer

Eflin pitched to a 4.36 ERA over 24 starts in 2018, going 11-8. Better results are ahead in 2019, according to his 3.80 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) from last season. Turning 25 years old next week, Eflin struck out 8.65 batters per nine innings last season with 2.60 walks allowed. While inducing a groundball rate of 41.2 percent, he allowed hard contact just 29.1 percent of the time.

Scherzer gave up just two hits and two runs while striking out 12 New York Mets in a loss Opening Day, as he couldn’t get a single run of support. Turning 35 years old later this summer, Scherzer retains the upper hand on paper in any pitching matchup he enters.

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals: By the Numbers

  • Harper is hitting .333/.538/1.111 through three games, hitting two home runs and drawing more walks than strikeouts.
  • Five Phillies have slugging percentages above .650 following their sweep of the Atlanta Braves, as Harper’s joined by Maikel FrancoRhys Hoskins, and fellow offseason additions Andrew McCutchen and J.T. Realmuto.
  • Victor Robles leads the Nationals in SLG% at 1.000, with Trea Turner right behind him at .923. Anthony Rendon is third on the team at .455.
  • Philadelphia’s .946 team OPS ranks second to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 1.017 mark.

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals: Picks and Betting Tips

Moneyline: The books are siding heavily with Scherzer and listing the home team as a -205 favorite against Eflin and the Phillies. There’s no arguing Scherzer’s superiority on the mound, but that number is showing too much disrespect to how hot the Phillies’ bats have started the year. Take Philadelphia at +178.

Against the spread: The Phillies are -128 to cover the spread of +1.5. There’s no reason to think they can’t pull out the win in a game strongly projected to be decided by a single run.

Over/under: The total of is tied for the lowest of the day. Take the UNDER with Scherzer involved and Eflin needing a quality outing to keep his team in the game.

Follow Esten on Twitter @EstenMcLaren


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