MLB Picks: Fade Overvalued Nationals Tonight Against Cubs

Jason Lake

Saturday, May 7, 2016 11:00 AM GMT

Don't be fooled by the Washington Nationals. They're not as good as the Chicago Cubs, and the MLB odds are giving the Cubs some betting value for Saturday's game.

Full disclosure: I'm still sour about the whole Montreal Expos thing. So when I write about the Nationals, I might be biased against them. Having said that, don't buy what the Nats (19-10, +5.38 units) are selling this year. They've already shed some of the profit they made last month off the backs of some pretty awful opponents. Now that the competition's tougher, Washington has dropped three of the past four games to fall back to the pack in the National League East.

That includes the first two games of their four-game series at Wrigley Field versus the best team in the majors, the Chicago Cubs (22-6, +11.78 units). Now this is what a real elite team looks like: hitting, pitching, defense, the whole enchilada. Yet despite all these gifts, and the adoration of the betting public, the Cubs still carry some betting value into Saturday's tilt (4:05 p.m. ET, FS1) with Washington.


 

In the Basement
Hey, the fine folks at FiveThirtyEight are doing MLB projections now. Thank you, Nate Silver & Co. Let's see what those darned Moneyball nerds are up to. NERDS~! Hmmmm... says here they've got the Cubs winning this game 57 percent of the time. According to our sweet little SBR Betting Odds Converter, that works out to -133 on the moneyline, sans vigorish.

Heading over to our MLB odds at press time, we have the Cubs available as low as -129 at Heritage. God bless the internet. So how does a team like Chicago end up in this position? The Nationals got off to that hot start, building up a 14-4 record and 8.33 units in profit at the expense of teams like the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins, who occupy last place in their respective leagues. People were overly impressed. Context is everything.

 

Fantasy Corner
Then you have Saturday's pitching matchup, which does favor Washington. Gio Gonzalez (2.79 FIP) is scheduled for the Nats against Jason Hammel (3.04 FIP); current Cubs have a combined .662 OPS against Gonzalez, while Hammel has allowed a combined .812 OPS to Washington's lineup. This might be a good spot to grab Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos for your fantasy team. He's 3-of-9 lifetime versus Hammel with two dingers, and he's only owned in 56.1 percent of ESPN leagues.

According to FiveThirtyEight, the Cubs are even better than 56.1 percent to win this game. Who are we to argue? Washington's overall hitting and defense are weaker than Chicago's, and the Nats bullpen is a bit overworked after Max Scherzer went just five innings in Friday's 8-6 loss to the Cubs +100. Well, at least they didn't have to pitch the ninth inning. Put them Cubs in our MLB picks, thank you kindly, and may the sphere be with you.

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":2993377, "sportsbooksIds":[93,1096,169,999996,180,139], "LineTypeId":2, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]
Free MLB Pick: Cubs -129
Best Line Offered: at Heritage
Record: 6-5 ML, 1-0 Totals, +2.08 units