The Washington Nationals head to Truist Park in Atlanta on the last day of May to open a four-game series against the Atlanta Braves, so here’s the best betting pick for the opening contest of this National League East showdown.
Washington and Atlanta already met each other in a couple of three-game series so far this season, and the Braves have won five of those six tilts. Both sets occurred at Nationals Park in Washington, and after a 6-5 defeat on April 6, the Braves have dominated the Nats in the next five encounters.
Atlanta opened as a -162 fave for Monday’s clash, while Washington is a +149 road dog with a total of 9.0 runs on DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Nats’ offensive woes continue
The Washington Nationals have scored just nine runs over their last five outings, as their offense continues with a poor performance in 2021. The Nats are scoring only 3.85 runs per game (23rd in the majors) while slashing .253/.321/.393.
Despite the fifth-best batting average in baseball, the Nats smacked just 70 doubles (24th) and 48 round-trippers (25th). On the other side of the ball, Washington is surrendering 4.29 runs per game (15th), and the Nats’ pitching staff is sporting a 4.14 ERA (17th) which is just below the league average.
Joe Ross will toe the slab Monday, and the 28-year-old righty has had some ups and downs over the last two months. He’s 2-4 with a 5.19 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in nine starts, as Ross has been pounded for 18 earned runs through just a couple of starts earlier in the season.
The righty met the Braves once on May 4 and yielded a pair of earned runs on five hits and two walks while striking out three across 5.1 frames of work. He was charged for a loss, so Ross is now 1-4 with a 6.43 ERA in seven career starts and one relief appearance against Atlanta.
The Braves continue to win and lose in sequences
The Atlanta Braves have already been riding a four-game losing streak on three occasions this season. After a heavy 13-2 defeat at the Mets this past Saturday, the Braves fell to 24-26 on the season, sitting at the third spot of the NL East, just one game ahead of Miami, and two games ahead of Washington.
Atlanta is scoring 4.86 runs per game (8th in the majors) while batting .235 (12th) and slugging .438 (2nd). The Braves hit the most homers (80), but their defense is a big issue. Atlanta is yielding 4.90 runs per contest (24th), and the Braves bullpen is sporting the seventh-highest ERA in baseball (4.75).
The Braves have some problems with injuries, missing Travis d’Arnaud and Cristian Pache, while Marcell Ozuna faces a long-term suspension. Charlie Morton will take the mound Monday, and the 37-year-old right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.98 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in ten starts this term.
Morton will get the Nats for the first time in 2021. He’s 2-6 with a 6.14 ERA in ten career starts against Washington.
- 1-4 in the last five games overall
- 3-6 in the last nine games on the road
- 4-1 in the last five games at home
- 5-0 in the last five contests against Washington
The Braves have won nine of their last 11 games against the Nationals, and I’m backing them to extend their dominance over Washington. Atlanta has scored five or more runs seven times during that span. The Braves’ offense should make the difference, but the hosts will also need a strong performance from their starting pitcher.
Charlie Morton doesn’t have a good record against Washington, but the current Nationals are batting only .206 against him (18-for-66) while slugging just .245. On the other side, the current Braves are batting .314 against Joe Ross (22-for-61) while slugging .501.
Pick: Take Atlanta Braves at -162
I like the over here despite the Nationals’ offensive woes. The line is a tricky one at exactly nine runs, and each of the previous four games between Atlanta and Washington produced eight or fewer runs in total.
Anyway, the Braves possess enough firepower to score eight runs on their own on a good day, while their bullpen has been shaky for most of the season. It’s a tough wager, but I’m expecting the Nationals to show some pride, too. The hosts to win remain my top pick.
Pick: Go over 9.0 runs at -105