Another stellar night of Major League action features many talking points as the playoffs loom into view. Ben Steele picks out his best bets.
"With highly talented teenager Juan Soto and the much-coveted Bryce Harper in the lineup you can expect the Nats to trouble Mike Foltynewicz of the Braves and produce a high scoring affair."
Nats' bats the key once again
August has been a productive month for Washington Nationals hitters. After a staggering, record setting 25-4 demolition of the New York Mets last week, the Nats have scored five or more runs in in five of their eight August games. All five of those games ended in wins, as a theme has developed over the last month of the season. If the batting lineup are on form the Nats invariably seem to win, but if they struggle the pitching staff can't bail them out and pick up wins of their own.
Tommy Milone takes the mound for Washington tonight, deputising for the injured Stephen Strasburg, facing a Braves side who consistently hit well for average, and are scoring almost five runs a game across the season. With highly talented teenager Juan Soto and the much-coveted Bryce Harper in the lineup you can expect the Nats to trouble Mike Foltynewicz of the Braves and produce a high scoring affair.
Leaky Severino a perfect match for Abreu
Luis Severino boasts an impressive 14-5 regular season record and an ERA of 3.08, however those stats don't tell the whole story. In his last five starts the 24-year-old's ERA sits at a gaudy 8.28 including a horror outing against Kansas City where he was benched after conceding six runs in just over four innings. Unfortunately for Severino, he has to face Jose Abreu tonight.
The White Sox power hitter hit the 20th home run of his season in last night's game and boasts a strong record against the Dominican pitcher. Abreu's team leading home run total has augmented by an impressive run of form since the All-Star break.
In the 18 games the Cuban has featured in since the 17th July, he has hit at an .333 average for seven homers and 14 RBIs to provide a flicker of a positive in an otherwise mediocre season for the South Siders. With Severino in poor form and Abreu looking to be back to his best tonight's game looks like a perfect storm.
Powerful lineups too much for pitching pair
Clayton Kershaw's last start was one of the easiest of his career. Given 21 runs worth of support the former MVP cruised to his fifth win of the year and, unsurprisingly, never looked troubled.
He faces Mike Fiers who makes his Oakland debut after arriving in a trade with Detroit. Both pitchers can point to ERAs that are below the league average but in a game that could boast nine players who have hit 17 or more home runs this season it seems unlikely that everyone will be kept quiet.
Neither team has struggled for runs this season and with the number of weapons available to both sides it could take only one mistake from either Kershaw or Fiers to see the ball flying into the stands. Back Over 7.5 runs in the match.