Washington returns home to open a three-game series with Cincinnati on Monday. The Reds are coming off a four-game split with the Chicago Cubs, and the Nationals won the finale against the Mets to avoid the sweep. Eugenio Suarez and Aristides Acquino tormented the Cubs as Suarez enters this contest with a three-game homer streak, and Acquino homered five times in the series and ended a four-game homer streak yesterday. Juan Soto breathed a sigh of relief as X-rays came back negative on his ankle, but he is most likely out for tonight’s game.
The Reds send Anthony DeSclafani (7-6, 4.20 ERA) to the mound against Erick Fedde (2-2, 4.20 ERA) who will make his third straight start in place of Max Scherzer, who is still out with a back sprain. DeSclafani won his last start despite giving up four runs in 5 1/3 innings in an 8-4 victory over the Angels. Fedde scattered six hits in six innings against the Giants in a 4-0 win.
The Nationals are a slight favorite at -110 and the over/under is 10.5.
Reds Need to Get Hot Down the Stretch
The Reds enter at 56-60 and are 23-32 away from home. They currently sit seven games behind the Cubs in the NL Central. They will need to go on a tear to keep their slim playoff chances alive.
DeSclafani has been much better after the All-Star break. He has a 1.19 WHIP and has struck out 30 in 27 innings. He is 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA in seven appearances against the Nationals.
Reds hitters have hit over .300 in a small sample against Fedde. They have four hits in 13 at-bats against the righty. Besides the red-hot Acquino and Suarez, outfielder Phillip Ervin, Josh VanMeter, and Tucker Barnhart are all have OPS’s over 1.000 since the break.
Cincinnati has Jared Hughes suspended, Curt Casali and Tyler Mahle on the IL, and Jose Iglesias is listed as day-to-day.
Holding A Slight Lead
Washington enters at 62-55 and 31-25 at home. They currently sit a half-game ahead of St. Louis for the top Wild Card spot. The Nationals have won four of their last six games.
Fedde has been up and down in his two starts since replacing Scherzer. He gave up nine runs in 3 2/3 innings against Atlanta before his six shutout innings against the Giants. He has faced the Reds once before, getting a no-decision after going four innings and allowing six hits and two runs in a 5-2 victory.
DeSclafani has had the Nats’ number in previous meetings. In 43 plate appearances, he has only allowed an OPS of .524. One of the Nationals with the most success, Soto, is most likely out for tonight with an ankle injury. He was 2 for 3 with a double. Brian Dozier is the only other Nationals player with an extra-base hit, as he is 2 for 4 with a double.
Washington has Ryan Zimmerman and Scherzer on the IL, and Soto is listed as day-to-day.
I’m rolling with DeSclafani having continued success against Washington. That, on top of the Reds being hot on offense, leads me to lean towards Cincinnati in this one. Fedde was good in last outing but has been bad since the All-Star break. He has a 1.47 WHIP and has been hit hard, allowing 23 hits in 19 2/3 innings and has a 5.03 ERA. The Reds are also 42-24 as the underdog this year. I am going with the Reds at +100.