Braves vs. Nationals MLB Pick: Bet ‘Under’ as Scherzer’s Dominance to Continue

David Lawrence

Thursday, July 2, 2015 12:17 PM UTC

Thursday, Jul. 2, 2015 12:17 PM UTC

The National are in a good patch right now, but can they keep it up against the Braves in the finale of this midweek series? Find the answer to this in our betting preview article which also offers a free pick.

The Washington Nationals always were the MLB betting favorite in the National League East, and they’re playing like it, but as a cautionary note to bettors, they’ve gone through good periods before in this up-and-down 2015 season. Just when it seemed, roughly a month ago, that the Nationals were about to run away with the division, they cooled off again. The Nationals seem to go through multi-week periods in which they play well and then fail to find answers. 


The Nationals clearly have more overall momentum over the past week and a half. They swept the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves, then won a weekend series in Philadelphia against the Phillies. The Braves did not respond well to getting swept by the Nationals a week ago. They lost a weekend series to the Pittsburgh Pirates and then lost the opener of this series to Washington on Tuesday. However, on Wednesday night, the Braves carried a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning (at home). If the Braves did manage to hold on and win that game, they would have reason to be newly confident about what they can achieve in this game on Thursday. The Braves had lost nine straight to the Nationals since blowing an eight-run lead at home two months ago. If Atlanta breaks that streak by holding on in Wednesday night’s game, the betting calculus for this game might feel a little different.


Pitching Matchup
With this pitching matchup, it’s as lopsided as anything you’ve seen all year. The Braves are sending a rookie named Manny Banuelos to the hill for what will be his first-ever major league appearance, either as a starter or as a reliever. The Braves are making a conscious choice to give Banuelos, and not a more established pitcher, the chance to oppose the hottest pitcher in baseball. The Braves’ reasoning is solid: Why waste a veteran pitcher in a bad matchup when that veteran pitcher can be held back for a team (and an opposing pitcher) he is much more likely to beat? The Braves just don’t think they can beat Max Scherzer in their present state, and you know what? They’re probably right. The Braves have been without injured star hitter Freddie Freeman, and they’ve averaged roughly two runs a game over their last 12 games without Freeman. That’s bad enough. Facing Scherzer is the toughest thing for a National League batting order to do right now. Scherzer has an 1.79 ERA for the season, and his June ERA was 1.29. Scherzer’s season WHIP is 0.79, and it was a tiny 0.72 in June. Scherzer pitched a sequence of 23 innings while giving up only one hit, and he threw 15 straight no-hit innings within that larger span of 23 innings. He’s as close to automatic as any pitcher out there.


What’s The Pick?
The Nationals should win but the question is if you want to lay a bunch of juice. Instead, I’m going to go under the number as Scherzer should lead the way. On top of that, we’re faced with a total of 6.5 on the MLB betting lines but five of Scherzer’s last eight starts have gone under that number and two of the three times it went over, it was just by half a run. That being the case, I’ll look for another low-scoring affair on Thursday.

MLB Pick: Under at Bovada

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