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St. Louis Cardinals vs. Washington Nationals Free Pick - 9/23/13

Washington Nationals (84-72) at St. Louis Cardinals (91-65)

MLB Baseball: Monday, September 23, 2013 at 8:15 pm (Busch Stadium)

Tanner Roark (R) (3-0) (0.947) vs. Adam Wainwright (R) (17-9) (2.983)

The Line: St. Louis Cardinals -165 / Washington Nationals +155 --- Over/Under: 7 See the Latest Odds

TV: MASN2, FS-Midwest

The Washington Nationals visith Busch Stadium to face the St Louis Cardinals in onday night action.

Although Washington has been playing their best baseball of the season for weeks now their drive for consecutive National League East titles has hit a dead end. It looks like the Nationals are mathematically alive for a Wild Card berth but the odds are stacked against them. The Nats are coming in off a doubleheader split with Miami on Sunday but in reality they needed a sweep and a strong finish in the final week along with plenty of help. The bottom line for Washington is the strong pitching and hitting we have seen the past several weeks wasn't on the menu early in the year which has cost them. Rookie Tanner Roark takes the mound for the first time in his career against the Cardinals. Roark has won three straight starts where he has allowed just two runs over 19 innings pitched.

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St. Louis Cardinals vs. Washington Nationals Free Pick - 9/23/13

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals are on the brink of wrapping up the National League Central but on the other hand they could be on the brink of finishing second or third with both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati right on their trail. In other words, the Redbirds can't afford to lose and did just that Sunday by a 6-4 count at Miller Park. The Cardinals missed out on a golden opportunity to pick up a game in the standings with Sunday's defeat but in my view the division is their's with the best combination of hitting and pitching in the division. St Louis puts their playoff hopes on Adam Wainwright against the visiting Nationals in game one of their series. Wainwright has tossed three consecutive quality outings with four runs plated in 22.2 frames.

Wainwright is not invincible and backing him at home means paying juice. I do favor the Cards but my gut says they'll need to find some runs in a close one...

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