Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals MLB Betting Series Preview
By Mike Rose
Both the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals went into the All-Star break trailing the Philadelphia Phillies for NL East honors by a half game and 5.5 games respectively. The Nats figured to be the team to coast to the division pennant at the outset of the season. If they’re to live up to expectations, at the very least a series win over one of the teams ahead of them in the standings is a must! They got two of their aces going, so it’s hardly a shock to see them the decisive chalk to win this three-game set.
Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals
Dates: Friday, July 20 – Sunday, July 22, 2018
Location: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
For all intents and purposes, the Braves are ahead of schedule. Not many predicted Brian Snitker’s team to be a factor in the NL East this season, but alas, they’re right in the thick of it. At 10 games over the breakeven point heading into Friday night’s series opener, Atlanta checks in as the fourth most lucrative bet in all of baseball ( $1208 ). They’re 27-22 on the road which has amounted to a solid $1065 return on investment.
It’s quite a different story in our nation’s capital where the Nationals have largely disappointed through better than half of their regular season docket. Dave Martinez has some work to do in their next 66 games if Bryce Harper and company are to live up to expectations. Though currently in third place of the division, Washington checks in with the second shortest odds to win the division ( +194 ) behind the Phillies ( +149 ).
Game 1 Probable Pitchers – Friday, July 20, 2018, 7:05 p.m. ET ( Local TV )
Anibal Sanchez vs. Stephen Strasburg
The veteran right-hander has found new life in the National League. After throwing nothing short of batting practice against AL bats his last three seasons in Detroit, Sanchez has rediscovered how to get opposing bats out. He’ll enter start No. 12 the owner of a 4-2 record and nifty 2.60 ERA. Opponents are only batting .204 against him to date, and he’s yet to allow an earned run in 10 innings thrown at the Nats this season.
Strasburg has proven to be a China doll year in and year out. This season has unfortunately once again been the case. Be that as it may, the righty is one of the best in the game when healthy and firing on all cylinders. This will be his first start in over a month since going on the DL due to shoulder inflammation. Before hitting the shelf, he went 6-6 with a 3.46 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. The Nationals only won two of his seven home starts, but he’s handled Atlanta’s offense with ease limiting Freddie Freeman and company to a .189 BAA and 3 ER over 14.2 innings.
Game 2 Probable Pitchers – Saturday, July 21, 2018, 7:05 p.m. ET ( Local TV )
Sean Newcomb vs. Gio Gonzalez
Newcomb was arguably the Braves best starting pitcher through the month of June. Then July hit and the feces hit the fan. In his three made starts before the All-Star break, the lefty is 0-3 with a bloated 9.75 ERA and 2.00 WHIP. He failed to pitch through the sixth inning in each, and didn’t make it through the fourth twice. Though the Nationals have struggled against lefties, he’s had issues with them in going 1-1 with a 5.56 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. This will be his second career start in D.C. He got rocked for 4 ER through four innings in the first.
Though not as dominant as he was a season ago, Gio Gonzalez continues to be the steady anchor that holds down the Nationals starting rotation. No, he doesn’t have the wipeout stuff of Scherzer or Strasburg, but he’s an innings eater and gets the job done more times than not. Relegated to more or less a six inning pitcher, only 36.8 percent of his starts have been of quality. He’s been his best at home where he sports a 3-2 record and 3.09 ERA, and took a no decision versus Atlanta earlier this season after tossing seven innings of 3 ER ball.
Game 3 Probable Pitchers – Sunday, July 22, 2018, 1:35 p.m. ET ( Local TV )
Mike Foltynewicz vs. Max Scherzer
With a 2.66 ERA and a 10.6 K/9 average, Folty has been the Braves staff ace. Unfortunately, his 7-5 record doesn’t state as such, but that has more to do with the 4.4 runs per start he’s received from the offense. Still, he needs to work on his longevity evidenced by a 27.8 quality start percentage. The Braves stand 4-5 in his nine road starts where his ERA falls to 2.54 over 49.2 innings. None of his last six starts have been of quality, but he’s been hard on the Nats through three starts to date in allowing only 3 ER with a 22:5 K/BB ratio over 19.1 innings. He tossed a complete game shutout last time he opposed them back on June 1.
What else can you say about Mad max that hasn’t already been said. He’s without a doubt one of the best starting pitchers in the game, and that won’t change in Sunday’s finale when he toes the bump for the 21st time this season. He’ll be out to snag win No. 13 in this one against a Braves offense he’s limited to just right hits and 2 ER through 14 innings over a pair of starts. Lifetime against Atlanta, Scherzer stands 8-6 with a 3.61 ERA and .254 BAA over 17 starts. Washington’s won seven of his 10 made home starts where he’s only given up 20 ER through 70+ innings of work.