Washington (Roark) -140 at Philadelphia (Hellickson) O/U 7.5
I'm not sure bettors are fully aware of what Washington's Tanner Roark has been up to this season. For starters, his K per nine inning rate is up from 5.68 to 8.29. Last season, Roark posted 10 swinging strikes in only one of his 12 starts. This season he's done it four times and is AVERAGING nine swinging strikes per game. And when he's not missing bats, he boasts the highest percentage (31.5%) of "soft" contact amount qualified MLB starters. He also is inducing ground balls at a career high 54% rate. Bottom line is Roark is pitching like an ace but not priced like one. There's not much reason to knock Jeremy Hellickson who through 10 starts has performed at an above average National League level. He's had a little trouble with the home run (9 allowed) but managed to be right at a hit allowed and strikeout per inning -- two benchmarks of a competent starter. But our reason for supporting the Nats is not only Roark's excellence but the overall discrepancy between these two squads. Three and a half games separate these two teams in the standings but a whopping 1.9 runs per game do as well. This is a game that post-All-Star break could very easily be priced in the -180 or higher range. At less than -150, the road favorite deserves our support.