The Atlanta Braves will begin their 2023 campaign with a trip to our nation's capital to take on the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on Thursday afternoon. With that said, it’s a good time to check out our MLB odds series, which includes a Braves-Nationals prediction and pick, laid out below.

Atlanta finished the 2022 season with a 101-61 record, winning the National League East by way of a tiebreaker. The Braves were eliminated in four games by the Philadelphia Phillies in the Division Series, but after making some key offseason moves, such as trading for star catcher Sean Murphy, the team is in a good position to compete for the NL East again in 2023.

Washington, on the other hand, posted a horrific 55-107 record last season, which was the worst in the MLB by five games. Last season signaled the beginning of what will likely be a slow, painful rebuilding process after the Nats traded star outfielder Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline. The Nationals made some additions around the margins over the offseason, but will employ a young roster heading into 2023.

Here are the Braves-Nationals MLB odds, courtesy of FanDuel. 

MLB Odds: Braves-Nationals Odds

Atlanta Braves: -1.5 (-146)

Washington Nationals: +1.5 (+122)

Over: 7.5 (-118)

Under: 7.5 (-104)

How To Watch Braves vs. Nationals

TV: Bally Sports Southeast, MASN


Time: 1:06 PM ET/ 10:06 AM PT

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Why The Braves Could Cover The Spread

Atlanta's strong offense from last season received a boost when Murphy was acquired in a trade with the Oakland Athletics this offseason. Murphy is one of the best all-around catchers in the league, and he finished last season with 18 home runs, 37 doubles, and a 3.5 bWAR. The Braves also have star first baseman Matt Olson, a fellow Oakland castoff, returning for the 2023 season after he slugged 34 home runs for Atlanta last season.

A full season from both Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna, Jr. would go a long way towards making this team title contenders. Albies played in just 64 games in 2022, but totaled 24 extra-base hits during his time on the field. Acuna played in 119 games, but failed to meet his lofty expectations hitting just 15 home runs while stealing 29 bases. Most of Atlanta's lineup has owned Patrick Corbin, who will get the nod for Washington in this game, including both Albies and Acuna.

Max Fried will get the opening day start for Atlanta, entering the final year of his contract. Fried was spectacular last season, posting a 2.48 ERA with 170 strikeouts in 185.1 innings to earn himself a second-place finish in the NL Cy Young race. A loaded Braves bullpen was made even stronger over the offseason, too, thanks to the addition of Joe Jimenez from the Detroit Tigers. Jimenez is coming off a career-year in which he put up a 3.49 ERA while striking out 77 batters in 56.2 innings. The left-handed combination of Tyler Matzek and A.J. Minter will once again give opponents fits this season too.

Why The Nationals Could Cover The Spread

Washington's lackluster offense is led by electric young prospect C.J. Abrams. Abrams stole just seven bases in his 90 games with San Diego and Washington last season, but the rule changes made this offseason should benefit him. Scouts have long been in love with Abrams' speed, routinely grading him as an 80 runner (top end of scouting scale). Should Abrams dial in his plate discipline, he has the potential to torment opponents at the top of the Nationals lineup.

Joey Meneses was a feel good story last season, hitting .324 with 13 home runs in the first 56 games of his MLB career, which came at the ripe age of 30. Meneses should at least provide a steady power option to anchor Washington's lineup. Jeimer Candelario is a bounceback candidate, as hit 42 doubles in 2021, and Victor Robles, who presents a similar skillset as Abrams, has owned Fried in his career, hitting .360 in 25 at-bats against him.

Corbin, who is coming off the worst season of his career, will take the ball for Washington to open their season. Corbin had an ugly 6.31 ERA in 2022 with just a 7.5 K/9 ratio, and it was the third straight year in which his ERA climbed north of 4.50. In 18 innings this spring, the veteran lefty registered a 4.50 ERA, so maybe he can put together a better outing in 2023. Kyle Finnegan is the team's best option out of the bullpen, striking out 70 batters in 66.2 innings last season while registering a 3.51 ERA.

Final Braves-Nationals Prediction & Pick

The Braves should have no problem in this one.

Final Braves-Nationals Prediction & Pick: Atlanta -1.5 (-146), over 7.5 (-118)