First place in the National League East is on the line this weekend when the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves play a four-game set. That the Nationals are battling for first is expected. The Braves are a year ahead of schedule. Atlanta is a short MLB betting favorite for Thursday’s series opener.
How to Bet Nationals at Braves MLB Betting Lines & Game Info
Max Scherzer has 120 strikeouts this season.
Today is May 31. pic.twitter.com/wK9SHHv4Sp
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 31, 2018
When: Thursday, 7:35 PM ET
Where: SunTrust Park, Atlanta
Probable pitchers (away/home): Tanner Roark/Sean Newcomb
TV: MLB Extra Innings
Radio: 106.7 FM (Washington) / 680 AM (Atlanta)
Opening MLB Lines: Braves -113, Nationals +103 (8.5)
The teams have split six games, each winning two of three at home. They played in Atlanta from April 2-4. The Nationals won the first game 8-1 but lost the second 13-6. Atlanta won the finale 7-1 in a shocker because Mike Foltynewicz outpitched Max Scherzer, the two-time reigning NL Cy Young winner and early favorite for another. Foltynewicz snapped an eight-start skid during which he went 0-7 with a 7.34 ERA, ending the major leagues’ second-longest active losing streak. Foltynewicz had been 2-2 with a 5.63 ERA in six career starts against Washington. Scherzer dropped to 1-3 with 6.16 ERA in his last five starts against Atlanta. He will miss the Braves this series, however. But remember that for later this season.
Why Bet on Washington?
The Nats are without a few regulars, including first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He hasn’t been missed much as Mark Reynolds has been fantastic since being called up from the minors. In Tuesday’s interleague win in Baltimore, Reynolds singled and popped a solo home run. Reynolds’ blast off of Dylan Bundy in the fourth inning proved to be the difference in the game. It was already his sixth homer in just 12 games with the Nationals. Zimmerman (oblique) might have lost his job.
The Nats also have a good-looking rookie in outfielder Juan Soto. In Tuesday’s win, Soto singled three times, added a walk and also stole his first major league base. The 19-year-old is now sporting a .393/.485/.607 batting line through his first nine big league games. Bryce Harper belted his National League-leading 17th home run in Tuesday’s win. He’s still not hitting for average, though, and striking out a lot.
Nationals manager Davey Martinez said Tuesday that Ryan Madson (pectoral) will be activated off the disabled list Thursday. The veteran setup man has been on the disabled list since May 20 because of a right pectoral strain. He had a 4.19 ERA through his first 21 appearances this season out of the Washington bullpen. Second baseman Daniel Murphy (knee) is scheduled to play at least two more minor league rehab games and then should be activated. He has yet to play this season.
Who Will Start on the Mound for the Nats?
It’s Tanner Roark on the mound here. Roark (2-4, 3.17) gets very little run support this year, just 3.3 per game. Roark allowed one earned run on four hits while walking two and striking out five across seven innings Saturday in Miami. He did not factor into the decision. Roark kept the ball on the ground plenty Saturday, delivering a 72.2 percent groundball rate.
Roark is now winless in four starts this month, but has pitched well in each, compiling a 2.63 ERA, 26 strikeouts and six walks over 27 1/3 innings. He has gone three consecutive games of pitching at least seven innings and ranks sixth in the National League in innings pitched with 65.1. Roark won in Atlanta on April 2, allowing one run over seven innings.
Why Bet on Atlanta?
The Braves have their own good-looking rookie in outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. He hasn’t faced the Nationals this season because he was called up in late April and won’t here as Acuna is on the DL with a leg injury and will miss around two weeks. He suffered a scary-looking injury over the weekend in Boston while crossing first base but it’s just an ACL sprain in his left knee.
Acuna is hitting .265 with five homers and 13 RBIs in 51 games. He will be eligible to be activated on June 7, which is an off-day for the Braves. So if all goes well, there is a chance he could rejoin the Braves’ lineup during the June 8-10 road series against the Dodgers. The team called up Dustin Peterson to take his place on the roster and Peterson will now share left field with Preston Tucker.
Freddie Freeman is near the top of the NL leaderboard in nearly every offensive category with runners in scoring position. His .447 batting average is percentage points behind leader Matt Kemp, while Freeman is third with a .509 on-base percentage, fifth with a .745 slugging percentage and third with a 1.253 OPS. Since Brian Snitker was named interim manager on May 16, 2016, the Braves have 44 last at-bat wins, the most in the major leagues.
Who Will Take the Mound for the Braves?
It’s young left ace Sean Newcomb here. Newcomb (5-1, 2.75) gave up three runs on six hits and four walks while striking out four over three innings Saturday in Boston. He did not factor in the decision. The southpaw from Boston have it in his first career start in Fenway Park, needing 88 pitches (48 strikes) to get through three frames. Prior to this outing, Newcomb’s shortest start of the year was a 4.1-inning April 2 loss to the Nationals. He had given up just one run over 25 innings in his previous four starts.
Newcomb has been difficult for opposing hitters to square up against this year, as he ranks 16th among qualified starters in soft contact rate (22.7 percent) and has only allowed three homers in 55 2/3 innings (0.5 HR/9). He lost vs. Washington on April 2, allowing six runs in 4.1 innings.
Latest MLB Betting Trends
- Washington is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games
- Washington is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
- The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Washington’s last 5 games
- Atlanta is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games at home
- Atlanta is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 games
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of Atlanta’s last 6 games
Expert MLB Betting Prediction
Best bet here is under the total. Slight lean to Washington on the moneyline.