The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Washington Nationals are both sitting on the top half of the NL Pennant odds board heading into the start of the second half of the MLB campaign, but they have some work to do as they begin a three-game series on Friday.
The sportsbooks have the Cardinals as the 7/2 favorite on the odds to win the NL Pennant with the second half of the season on tap, followed by both the Braves and Dodgers at 17/4, the Reds at 6/1, the Pirates at 13/2, and then the Nationals at 15/2.
Los Angeles, however, went just 47-47 prior to the All-Star Break, and they enter the weekend 2.5 games behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West standings. Handicappers are being forced to adapt their sports wagering strategies and look beyond the current leaders and predict second-half success.
The Nationals are sitting at 48-47, and they're six games behind the Braves in the NL East, exiting the MLB All Star Game where pitching dominated again.
The Dodgers and Nationals begin their three-game series in Washington on Friday night, with Los Angeles having beaten the Nats twice in three meetings back in May. With only 14 total runs scored in that series the UNDER paid out twice for totals bettors. Overall the Dodgers are 7-3 over their last 10 games against the Nationals.
Washington has Stephen Strasburg listed as their probable pitcher for Friday's game, with the righthander just 5-7 on the season despite his solid 2.99 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 108 1-3 innings of work.
Strasburg was knocked around for seven runs in just two innings against the Marlins in his last start; in his career he's picked up a pair of no-decisions in two starts against the Dodgers, allowing just one run in 12 innings.
Ricky Nolasco (6-9, 3.76 ERA) is the probable starter for Los Angeles for Friday night.
This weekend's National League slate also includes Philadelphia at the Mets, Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, Miami at Milwaukee, San Diego at St. Louis, the Cubs at Colorado, and Arizona at San Francisco. The Diamondbacks are just 3-6 on the MLB betting lines against the division-rival Giants through nine meetings so far this season.
Early next week the Nationals will take on another contender as they start a four-game home series against the Pirates on Monday night. Los Angeles, meanwhile, will stay on the road and head up to Toronto for an interleague set against the struggling Blue Jays.
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