Washington is 8-1 against division-rival Atlanta this season, but this handicapper believes the betting value resides with the Braves for the opener of a three-game series at Turner Field Tuesday night.
Nats-Braves Tuesday Betting Odds
As of early Tuesday morning the best price we could find on Washington and Jordan Zimmerman was the -114 offered at Pinnacle, while JustBet was giving Atlanta and Shelby Miller +108. Also, Bovada was chalking the Nationals at -190 to win this series, with the Braves getting +155 as home dogs.
Atlanta just broke a five-game losing streak with a 2-1 win Sunday in Pittsburgh. At 36-40 the Braves are six games back in the NL East, and 5.5 games out in the battle for the second National League wild-card spot.
Washington, meanwhile, just had an eight-game winning streak snapped by an 8-5 loss in the second game of a double-header Sunday. At 42-34 the Nats lead the NL East by 2.5 games over the second-place Mets.
Washington owns an 8-1 lead in this season series, including a three-game sweep last week in DC. Also, the totals have skewed 6-3 toward the OVERS in Nats-Braves games this year.
This pitching match-up is a replay of last Wednesday's game, a 2-1 Washington 11-inning victory.
Miller (5-3, 1.94), by our tough standards, is 10/15 on quality starts this season. Last Wednesday he held these Nationals to one run through seven innings, and over his last four starts he's allowed just six earned runs through 26 innings. For the season Miller has permitted just 70 hits through 97 innings, walked 29 and struck out 70; Atlanta is 9-6 in Miller's starts, with the UNDERS going 9-5.
Since the beginning of last season, when he was with St. Louis, Miller has started three times against the Nationals, allowing just two runs through 19 innings; his teams lost two of those games, but by scores of 3-2 and 2-1, and all three of those games played UNDER.
Zimmerman (5-5, 3.42) is 11/15 on quality starts this year, and two for his last two. Two weeks ago he gave up three runs in seven innings against Tampa, and last Wednesday he tossed eight shutout innings against these Braves. On the season Zimmy has allowed more hits, 102, than innings pitched, 92, walked 19 and struck out 63; Washington is 8-7 in Zimmy's starts, with the OVERS going 8-7.
Zimmerman has already started three times against Atlanta this season, allowing six ER through 21 innings; the Nats won all three of those games.
Tuesday's Batting Splits
Atlanta ranks eighth in the Majors this season against right-handed pitching with a .323 team on-base percentage, while Washington ranks 10th against righties with a .322 OBP.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at Turner Field this season are 20-11 on the OVERS this season, averaging, somewhat surprisingly, 8.6 runs per. But some of that might have to do with a respectable Braves offense and one of the worst bullpens in baseball.
Washington is playing without IFs Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman and OF Jayson Werth, who are all on the DL, and several regulars, including Denard Span and Bryce Harper, are playing through injuries.
Atlanta, meanwhile, is playing without Freddie Freeman, who's also on the DL.
Nats-Braves Tuesday Free Picks
We'll give Miller the edge in the pitching match-up, and sooner or later one would think those injuries would take a toll on Washington. The value on today's line resides with the Braves, although we'll have to hope their bullpen doesn't get too involved. Also, the last time these two starters met the game went into the seventh inning as a scoreless tie, so we're thinking UNDER for tonight.
MLB Picks: Atlanta +108 at JustBet and UNDER 6.5 runs (+115) at 5Dimes