For a while there, the Washington Nationals were closing the gap on the Atlanta Braves in the NL East Division. However, the Braves are pulling away again and can add more distance in Thursday’s series opener against the Nationals. Atlanta is a slight MLB Betting favorite.
How to Bet Nationals at Braves MLB Lines & Game Info
- When: Thursday, 7:20 PM ET
- Where: SunTrust Park
- Probable pitchers (away/home): Stephen Strasburg/Julio Teheran
- TV: MLB Extra Innings
- Live Stream: MLB.tv
- Radio: 680 The Fan
- MLB Lines: Washington Nationals -135 (Total 9.5)
Why Bet on Washington?
Stephen Strasburg (11-4) tossed six scoreless innings while allowing seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts to earn a victory against the Phillies on Friday. The 30-year-old began the second half the same way he ended the first — shutting out the opposing team for at least six frames. Strasburg has won four straight games, posting a 2.39 ERA during that stretch. He has a 3.46 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, .219 batting average against and 144 strikeouts in 122.1 innings this season, while his 11 wins lead the National League. Each game against Atlanta will be crucial for the Nationals to close the gap in the NL East, and Strasburg has done his part so far. He is 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA and 16 strikeouts in two starts against the Braves this year.
One noticeable secret to Strasburg’s success in 2019 is that he has altered his pitch usage. Strasburg re-introduced his two-seam fastball on a consistent basis for the first time in several seasons. The addition of the sinker has forced hitters to guess more and has made it more difficult to figure out what he is trying to do on the mound from pitch to pitch. Strasburg is employing the sinker 18.4 percent of the time this season. In 2016, he threw the pitch six times in total. In 2017, the two-seam was not thrown enough to be tracked. In 2018, Strasburg used the sinker just seven percent of the time, or 152 pitches the entire season.
“He’s able to ride up and into righties,” Nats coach Paul Menhart said. “The sinkhole, if you are familiar with that term. But what he’s really doing is Stras is using his off-speed more. That’s probably the biggest change. He’s making it difficult for the opposing teams to know what’s coming. He’s not being predictable.”
The most important statistic for the right-hander this season, however, is probably the number of trips he’s made to the IL this season: zero. The three-time All-Star has enjoyed incredible success in Washington but has started 30+ games just twice in his 10-year career. He’s on pace to do it for the third time in 2019.
- Runs: 4.90
- Hits: 8.57
- Walks: 3.33
- Strike Outs: 8.38
- Runs: 4.55
- Hits: 8.36
- Walks: 3.06
- Strike Outs: 9.43
Why Bet on Atlanta?
The Braves are without setup man Jacob Webb, although on Webb’s right elbow showed a bone bruise. “It’s better than what it could possibly have been,” Webb said. “I’ll rest it and do as much recovery and all that I can do for it. It’s probably going to be a couple of days and then starts throwing, see how it feels.” The setup man was placed on the injured list Monday.
It’s possible that outfielder Ender Inciarte could be activated for this one. Inciarte — who has just a .410 OPS in 10 rehab games so far — has been out since mid-May with a back injury. He would appear to be in line for a fourth outfielder role upon his return.
Fellow outfielder has 16 steals this season to go along with his 23 home runs. The 21-year-old, who hit 26 homers and stole 16 bags last season, became the sixth player in baseball history, and the first since Mike Trout (2012-2013) with two 20-15 seasons prior to his 22nd birthday. Acuña Jr. will soon have his second 25-15 season. Only Orlando Cepeda and Trout had two such seasons prior to their 22nd birthday.
Julio Teheran allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits and walk over six innings. He struck out six and did not factor into the decision in Saturday’s 7-5 win over the Padres. Teheran allowed two homers — to Manny Machado and Francisco Mejia — in the start, but otherwise bottled up the Padres’ offense effectively. The 28-year-old has a 3.71 ERA and 1.32 WHIP with a 97:52 K:BB in 106.2 innings this season. He owns a 5-6 record heading into Thursday.
Teheran has not won in five starts since his last victory on June 13 — two losses followed by three no-decisions. He was 0-2 with a 6.57 ERA in three starts last season vs. Washington.
- Runs: 5.32
- Hits: 9.01
- Walks: 3.60
- Strike Outs: 8.66
- Runs: 4.75
- Hits: 8.68
- Walks: 3.69
- Strike Outs: 8.55
Nationals vs Braves MLB Betting Trends
- Under is 6-0-1 in Strasburg’s last 7 road starts vs. Braves
- Nationals are 11-5 in Strasburg’s last 16 starts vs. Braves
- Nationals are 13-4 SU in their last 17 games
- The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Washington’s last 6 games on the road
- Braves are 1-4 SU in their last 5 games when playing at home against Washington
- The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Atlanta’s last 7 games at home
Expert Final Score Prediction for Nationals vs Braves
Washington Nationals 3 – Atlanta Braves 2