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MLB season begins to enter the home stretch

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The MLB season unfolds with fascinating stories of surprise, dominance and fierce competition. From the unexpected downfall of the St. Louis Cardinals to the energetic rise of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the baseball landscape is in constant flux. Adding to the fervor, the commendable return of Tarik Skubal and the intense Nationals-Yankees showdown at iconic Yankee Stadium are keeping fans on edge.

The surprising decline of the Cardinals

A rare sight in the late baseball season is the Cardinals languishing at the bottom of the division. It has been decades since their last finish; in 1990 when they played in the NL East. This year's poor performance is especially surprising given their initial status as favorites to top the division.

While St. Louis struggles, Pittsburgh is buzzing with excitement. The Pirates' youthful rejuvenation is in full swing, with a wave of promising prospects showing their prowess at PNC Park, invigorating fans.

The Cardinals, currently 17 games below .500 and with the fifth-lowest record in the league, are dealing with roster challenges. With Matthew Liberatore on the injured list, Zack Thompson steps up. Although his two starts this season were winless, his performance was commendable, producing 13 strikeouts.

Interestingly, the Cardinals are not faltering on offense, with top-five finishes in several metrics. However, their pitching remains a major concern. On the other hand, Luis Ortiz of the Pittsburgh Pirates shows potential but needs consistency. With a repertoire that relies heavily on his slider, sinker and fastball, Ortiz has struggled to find his rhythm, both in the majors and at Triple-A.

Recent performances favor the Pirates. They have been impressive against the Cardinals, winning 7 of 9 games. Pittsburgh's offense seems to have found its rhythm, and they have handled fastballs effectively, a pitch Thompson relies on often.

Meanwhile, despite their pitching woes, Cardinals hitters like Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt remain a threat. For those looking for midweek baseball excitement, a high-scoring game between these teams on Wednesday promises to be an attractive bet.

The stellar return of Skubal

After returning from injury, Tarik Skubal is witnessing a remarkable performance phase in baseball. As he prepares to face a Cubs team that struggles against left-handed pitchers, the Cubs' Jameson Taillon, who hasn't been at his best in Chicago, prepares to defend.

Interestingly, the Tigers have been able to efficiently counter right-handed pitchers, putting them on par with the Cubs bullpen. This gives the Tigers an advantage in the hitting department.

Jameson Taillon's current season is less than impressive. A glimmer of hope appeared after the All-Star Game break, but his recent stats show a staggering 6.00 ERA over the last 21 innings. Overall, his numbers sit at a 5.56 ERA vs. 5.26 xERA. While Taillon's barrel rate has increased and his strikeout rate is a bit disappointing, his saving grace remains a decent 6.8% walk rate.

Skubal's recent stats eclipse his ERA, showing a promising 2.63 xERA effectiveness. His performance this month has been exceptional. Further amplifying Detroit's strength is their competition against right-handed pitchers. The Tigers' offensive strength combined with Skubal's skill set seems to tip the scales against Taillon and the Cubs.

Nationals face Yankees in Game 2 of series at Yankee Stadium

The Washington Nationals (58-68) are set for the second showdown in their three-game series against the New York Yankees (60-65) this Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, with kickoff at 7:05 p.m. ET. The bookmakers' odds analysis for the Nationals-Yankees clash offers insight into the game.

The Nationals secured a 2-1 victory over the Yankees in Game 1, thanks to solo home runs by SS CJ Abrams and 3B Carter Kieboom. Notably, the Nationals secured 8 of the last 10 games, but are still 7 1/2 games behind the final NL wild card spot. In contrast, the Yankees, with only 2 hits in Tuesday's first game, face a slump with 9 straight losses, pushing them 10 1/2 games behind the last American League wild card spot.

For the upcoming Nationals vs. Yankees game, predictions suggest that the Nationals are likely to pick up a 6-4 victory over the Yankees. Given the Yankees' recent struggles, the Nationals (+115) are favored on the road in Wednesday's clash, especially since they have secured 5 wins in their last 6 games, contrasting with the Yankees who are closing in on a 10th straight loss.

While the Nationals +1.5 (-175) have a promising outlook, it is advisable to skip the run line due to the prevailing odds. This is based on the Yankees' prowess against left-handed pitchers, marked by outstanding wOBA (.438) and wRC+ (187) stats since the start of August, and the fact that Severino has consistently allowed 3 or more earned runs in 10 of his last 12 starts.

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