Nationals-Braves: When Max Scherzer Pitches, It’s a No-Brainer Bet

Tuesday, April 3, 2018 3:49 PM UTC

Tuesday, Apr. 3, 2018 3:49 PM UTC

The Nationals and Braves close out a three-game set in Atlanta on Wednesday, and it’s the first game of the day with a 12:10 p.m. ET first pitch.

Washington Nationals at Atlanta BravesFree MLB Pick: Nats RL (& Under)Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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It’s getaway day for many teams around baseball Wednesday, which means plenty of matinee action. The first matchup of the day is from Atlanta, meaning we shouldn’t have any weather worries, as the Nationals and Braves close out a three-game set with a 12:10 p.m. ET first pitch.

Washington is now down two regulars. Second baseman Daniel Murphy, who finished second in the NL batting race last season at .322, opened the season on the DL following offseason knee surgery. He did run for the first time off a treadmill Monday but is still likely about two weeks away from activation. Meanwhile, catcher Matt Wieters was placed on the DL Monday with a left oblique strain. Not sure that’s a huge loss as Wieters’ career is trending downward and he’s now one of the worst pitch-framers in baseball. Miguel Montero and call-up Pedro Severino will split time behind the plate for now. The Nationals have looked every bit the part of World Series betting favorite thus far, killing the ball offensively – especially Adam Eaton and Bryce Harper -- and getting dominant starting pitching.

The Braves are also down their starting catcher with Tyler Flowers recently placed on the DL due to an oblique injury. He was hurt on his first plate appearance of the season and expects to miss at least a month. Flowers was a pleasant surprise last year, hitting a career-high .281 with 12 homers.

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Probable Pitchers: Scherzer vs. Foltynewicz

Look, it’s not rocket science when Nationals ace Max Scherzer, the winner of the past two Cy Young Awards, is on the mound: Bet Washington on the runline. I recommended exactly that in Scherzer’s first start of the season last Friday in Cincinnati, and he threw six shutout innings in a 2-0 victory, allowing five hits with 10 strikeouts and one walk. It was the 65th game of his Hall of Fame career with double-digit strikeouts, and he whiffed seven straight Reds at one point. Washington is now 36-16 in Scherzer’s past 52 road starts.

Of Scherzer’s 65 career 10+ strikeout games, only one has come at the expense of the Braves, however. That was last July 7 in D.C., where Scherzer struck out 10 but took a no-decision in allowing four runs over 7.2 innings. Overall, he was an average 2-2 with a 4.41 ERA in five starts vs. Atlanta in 2017 with 37 strikeouts in 32.2 innings. The Braves collectively hit only .207 off him. Freddie Freeman is 5-for-21 career against Scherzer with two solo homers.

Atlanta’s Mike Foltynewicz is almost as nasty as Scherzer but can have control problems. The 26-year-old was solid in his first 2018 start, allowing two runs over five innings with seven strikeouts and one walk in a no-decision vs. the Phillies. Last year, Folty was 1-2 with a 6.64 ERA in four starts vs. Washington. Harper is 3-for-9 off him with two doubles and a homer.

No reason to NOT bet Scherzer on the runline again here for a Wednesday MLB pick. Washington has won eight of his past 10 vs. Atlanta. I also like the ‘under’ with Scherzer on the mound and the early start following a night game. Those are generally low-scoring games with the quick turnaround and some starters perhaps sitting (also can be shadow issues). The ‘under’ is 5-0 in Scherzer’s past five on the road.

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