As the playoff picture in the National League begins to come into focus, the (60-59) Washington Nationals and (64-55) St. Louis Cardinals find themselves on the outside looking in.
Mired in third place in their respective divisions, the Cardinals and Nationals are running out time if they hope to make the postseason this year. The two teams play the second game of their four game series today (8:15pm ET Tuesday).
Before we conclude with our Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals predictions, we will fully preview Game 2 and then give our betting picks.
Game 1 Recap
The Nationals and Cardinals entered this series still within striking distance of the leaders of their divisions, the (66-51) Atlanta Braves in the NL East and the (68-49) Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. However, by the end of it, one of these teams could be essentially out of playoff contention if they aren’t careful.
As it stands, that team could be Washington. Following an absolutely heartbreaking loss to the Cubs on Sunday night thanks to a walk off grand slam, the Nationals missed an opportunity to gain ground on both the Braves and (65-52) Philadelphia Phillies, both of whom lost on Sunday as well. Looking to avoid another loss, the Nationals looked to Tommy Milone to stop their downward skid. Milone lasted just 4.1 innings however as he gave up two runs on 10 hits and was pulled before more damage could be done. Despite Milone’s rocky start, the Nationals and Cardinals were tied after four innings.
In the top of the seventh with St. Louis starter Miles Mikolas still on the mound, the Nationals took back the lead as they scored two runs and chased Mikolas from the game. St. Louis responded by tagging Justin Miller and Sammy Solis for four runs in the bottom of the eighth. Down 6-4, the Nationals also managed to do to the Cardinals what was done to them by the Cubs as Washington scored two runs to tie the game. Unfortunately however, Washington’s string of bad luck and bad bullpen pitching continued as in the bottom of the ninth the Cardinals walked it off thanks to a home run off the bat of Paul DeJong.
This was the second game in a row where Washington lost on a walk off by the other team, something the Nationals no doubt don’t want to see repeated in game two of this series.
Game 2 – Pitching Probables: (WAS) Gio Gonzalez vs (STL) John Gant
Looking to get back on the right track and back into the win column, the Nationals will send 32-year-old Gio Gonzalez to the mound for Game 2. He’ll be opposed by 26-year-old John Gant.
The 10-year veteran Gonzalez is in the midst of his seventh season with the Nationals. It has been an up-and-down year for the left handed pitcher as Gonzalez has just a 7-8 record and 3.89 ERA in 23 starts. The Nationals are 11-12 in his starts but it really has been a tale of two seasons.
Gonzalez opened the season with a 6-2 record with the Nationals going 7-4 in his 11 starts. He allowed no more than three earned runs per game and was especially pristine in May allowing just five earned runs in his 30.2 innings pitched in the month. Over the first two months, Gonzalez had also allowed just three home runs. While his walk totals were high, it was nothing new for Gonzalez and nothing Washington was overly concerned about as a result.
In June, Gonzalez went from being a stellar starter to one who couldn’t find a strike zone. And when he did find the strike zone, he found it too much. Gonzalez gave up six home runs in 21.1 innings in June while twice walking more than four batters in a single game. He only had more than three strikeouts once as well. Gonzalez’s struggles continued into July as while he did only allow one home run, he walked 18 batters in just 28.2 innings.
Gonzalez’s last start saw him return to his early season form as he allowed just one run and six hits in seven innings.
Against the Cardinals last season, Gonzalez posted just a 1.29 ERA in two starts. This will be his first time facing them in 2018.
He will be countered on the mound by John Gant, who is in just his third season in the majors. Gant, who came up with the Braves, has been with the Cardinals for the last two years, both as a starter and a long reliever. This year, he has pitched 17 games, 10 of which he has been the starter for.
Gant has an ERA of 3.89 which is identical to that of Gonzalez. He has pitched significantly less innings however at just 69.1 on the season. Gant opened his season strong, recording a scoreless outing on April 26. May was another story however as Gant gave up 13 earned runs in 21.2 innings, while walking nine. He followed that up with a blemish-free month of June, pitching once in relief and once as a starter and allowing zero earned runs in nine innings. July was a mixed bag as Gant pitched 25.2 innings, gave up 20 hits and 10 earned runs. He also allowed five home runs and 15 walks compared to just 18 strikeouts. This pattern has continued in August as Gant’s last two starts have been one bad, one good. His most recent start was the good as he allowed just two hits and one earned run in six innings.
In his career, Gant has faced the Nationals twice, both of which are outings he would rather forget. In those two meetings, Gant has an ERA of 16.88 having given up five earned runs and seven hits in just 2.2 innings pitched.
Our Preview’s Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals Game 2 Picks & Predictions Verdict
Neither Washington nor St. Louis rank particular high when it comes to offense. Both fall in the middle with the Nationals ranking 13th and the Cardinals 15th in total runs and RBI on the season. The two teams are swapped when it comes to average as the Cardinals are 12th and the Nationals 14th.
The major American online sports betting sites list the Cardinals as favorites following their victory in Game 1. While this preview doesn’t expect the Nationals to be swept, it does look like they will fall victim to St. Louis at least once more in this series and that could be Game 2. So these are the Washington Nationals vs St. Louis Cardinals Game 2 predictions and betting picks for this preview: