Free MLB Picks: Nationals Overvalued in Atlanta? Shocking

bartolo colon

Saturday, May 20, 2017 4:31 PM GMT

The Washington Nationals are running away with the NL East, but they’re still a bad baseball pick for Saturday’s road game against Bartolo Colon and the Atlanta Braves.

If you’ve been reading this space for a while, you know how much pleasure I get out of fading the Washington Nationals. It’s a deep-seated bias that everyone here at the home office keeps in check for me, and you deserve to be aware of it, because here I go again. The Nationals are off to another fine start this year at 25-15 (+4.19 betting units) heading into Friday’s action, but they’re overvalued for Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Braves. First pitch is at 4:10 p.m. Eastern.

No, the Braves (16-22, –3.86 units) aren’t particularly good. But they’ve got a special pitcher taking the mound: Bartolo Colon, who’s been around for so long, he played for the Montreal Expos before they relocated to D.C. in 2004. Is Colon better than Washington’s projected starter, Max Scherzer? Again, no, not even close. But the betting market is blowing the difference out of proportion, opening the Nationals at –200 on the MLB odds board.
 

Curse of the Bartolo

Managing my anti-Nats bias is so much easier when FiveThirtyEight is cranking out all these free projections for us to use. They’ve got Washington winning Saturday’s game 64 percent of the time, which works out to a fair price of –178 using the SBR Betting Odds Converter. That projection will go up or down depending on Friday’s results, but not by much. It’s a good baseline for our MLB picks.

Performance-wise, Colon (5.01 FIP) has been roughed up in his first eight stats with the Braves, but he’s still 1.20 units in the black on a team record of 4-4. Scherzer (3.02 FIP) is enjoying another quality season, but go figure, Washington is 5-3 in his eight starts for a tiny profit of 0.06 units. The chalk monsters strike again.
 


The peripheral stats for these two pitchers suggest even more good times ahead for Atlanta supporters. Colon has a .315 BABIP with 57.6 percent of base runners stranded; Scherzer has a .262 BABIP with 79.7 percent of runners left on base. There’s some wiggle room there for Scherzer to regress – but even more room for Colon, who’s way off his career averages. He made 6.29 units with a 3.99 FIP for the New York Mets last year, don’t forget. They sure could use him now.

Free MLB Pick: Braves +185
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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