Monday Night Baseball: Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals

Both the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals are not out of the playoff conversation, but for both, if the season ended today they would be on the outside looking in.  With that in mind, every game is important as we work through the last third of the schedule. Both will be looking for those all important wins as the Nationals (60-58) travel to Busch Stadium to take on the Cardinals (63-55).  The pitching matchup in this one will feature Tommy Milone (1-1, 5.50 ERA) for the Nationals and Miles Mikolas (12-3, 2.74 ERA) for the Cardinals. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 pm ET.

The moneyline for Monday’s game is set at the Washington Nationals +125 and the St. Louis Cardinals -135.

Nationals Just Can’t Catch A Break This Season

After winning the NL East by 20 games last season, the Nationals just can’t find any consistency in their performances and they have to be boiling over with frustration at this point.  This may not have been more evident in the way they lost on Sunday night. After splitting the first two games with the Chicago Cubs over the weekend, the Nationals took a 3-0 lead into the ninth inning after Max Scherzer spun a gem in his outing.  What happened next…. Ryan Madson’s ninth inning went ground out, single, hit by pitch, pop out, hit by pitch, GRAND SLAM! On only two hits in the ninth inning, the Cubs came back and beat the Nationals, pushing them to 5.5 games back in both the wild card race and in their division.

To try to rebound after the tough loss, the Nationals will be sending lefty Tommy Milone to the mound.  Filling in for the injured Stephen Strasburg, Milone is 1-1 with a 5.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and opponents are hitting .296 against him on the season.  In 18 innings pitched, he has 19 strikeouts and no walks, although he has allowed 4 home runs. After performing pretty well in his first two fill-in outings, his last one was one to forget.  In a 8-3 loss to the Braves, Milone went 6 innings, giving up 7 earned runs and striking out 4.

Cardinals Look To Keep Rolling

Don’t look now but the Cardinals are starting to heat up a little.  They have won five in a row, including a three-game sweep against the Kansas City Royals.  On Monday, they will send out Miles Mikolas to try to get the series against the Nationals started on the right foot.  This season, Mikolas is 12-3 with a 2.74 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and opponents are hitting .239 against him. In 144.1 innings, he has struck out 98 and walked 25.  In his last three outings, all Cardinals’ wins, he has gone a combined 20 innings, allowing 5 earned runs and striking out 9. While he may not be a heavy strikeout pitcher, he does keep the Cardinals in just about every ball game as he has allowed three or fewer runs in nine consecutive games.

Offensively, it is pretty remarkable how well Matt Carpenter has performed this season.  After starting the season off slowly, he is now hitting .277/.389/.591 with a .980 OPS. He has 32 home runs, 65 runs batted in and have scored 79 runs (he leads the Cards in home runs and runs scored, and trails for most runs batted in by only 4).  Albeit in limited at-bats, Carpenter has also had some success against Tommy Milone. In his career, he is 2 for 6 with a home run. Marcell Ozuna has also homered against Milone and is 2 for 2 against him.

Nationals Can’t Bounce Back After Sunday’s Heartbreaker

It may only be about 300 miles, but the flight Sunday night from Chicago to St. Louis is going to feel like a long one for the Nationals.  Another win that they let slip through their fingers, which has really been the story of their season. Unfortunately, they do not have the pitcher going on Monday to stop the bleeding, either.  I think the Cardinals, who are playing pretty good baseball, will pounce on Milone and I think it will be another long night for the Nationals on Monday. Take the Cardinals at -135.