Take the Nationals in Sanchez vs. Flaherty

Nationals vs. Cardinals, 4:15 ET

The Cardinals have been one of the best teams in baseball over the last month or so. They are even a great 8-2 over their last ten games. The Nationals decided at the deadline to trade away their best player and basically pack it all in. Despite that, they've been playing better baseball lately and are 6-4 themselves coming into today's game.

Anibal Sanchez had a rough start to the season with the Nationals, but he has settled down quite a bit. No longer is he a guy you can auto-fade every time he takes the ball. In fact, he is coming off his best start of the season, a seven-inning outing that saw him allow just three hits and one earned run, a solo homer. The Nationals have even won the last four Sanchez starts, and three were against playoff teams. He's also pitching better on the road, where the game takes place today. He did face the Cardinals once this year, and that was before he started putting things together. In that game, he allowed six earned runs over 5.2 innings. The start wasn't exactly terrible it was a three-run third, and a three-run sixth. If he can avoid that today, he probably will be fine.

I think Jack Flaherty has the stuff to make him an ace on the Cardinals staff. Unfortunately, he is constantly injured so you can't rely on him to make the starts that you need, and we haven't been able to see him sustain my thought. This season has only seen him make three starts. He's also only pitched eight total innings. In those innings, he has allowed five total earned runs and nine walks. So, clearly, something was up. This game should see him make anywhere from three to five innings. If he can't navigate the Nationals lineup - even with them playing better, he probably needs to just be put back on the injured list or something.

This game's line is off to me. I get the Cardinals are a better team, the casual bettor also probably thinks that the Nationals = terrible and Cardinals = good. However, I do think we need to back the Nationals in this game. Sanchez has been pitching better, and Flaherty hasn't played in a Major League game since June. Maybe Flaherty comes off the IL and pitches the way I know he can, but in this one, the value is on the Nationals. I'll take them through five innings on the moneyline at +195.

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