UPDATE as of April 1, 2021, 11:50 AM EST: The Mets-Nationals game on Apr. 1 has been postponed due to COVID-19 related issues, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Our primetime opening day matchup features the New York Mets and the Washington Nationals on ESPN. The New York Mets have been one of the most talked-about teams since new owner Steven Cohen beat out Alex Rodriguez for the right to absorb this mess of a franchise. Cohen has made some great moves and seems to be shifting the culture in Queens, NY, though. The Nationals on the other hand had a tough 2020 after winning the World Series in 2019. They hope to get back to playing great baseball in a crowded division that’s set to be one of the best in the league. Washington has received news of a positive COVID test within the last 24 hours, which will be something for us to monitor throughout the day. It’s time to continue our MLB odds series and make a Mets-Nationals prediction and pick.
Here’s how sportsbooks have set the opening Mets-Nationals odds.
MLB Odds: Mets-Nationals Odds
New York Mets ML (-155)
Washington Nationals ML (+143)
Over 6.5 Runs (-111)
Under 6.5 Runs (-109)
Why The Mets Could Cover The Spread
The New York Mets made the biggest splash of the offseason as they acquired shortstop Francisco Lindor from the Cleveland Indians. Lindor is sure to be a huge addition to a lineup that already led the league in team batting average last season. This year’s lineup has a chance to be the best in Mets history. They will be up against Mad Max Scherzer, which in the past would be a scary thought. The Mets might actually be excited for the opportunity to see a regressing pitcher on opening day, though. Scherzer struggled in 2020, posting his lowest strike rate since 2014 and allowed the highest barrel rate of his career. His strikeout rate dropped about four percent, his walk rate increased about three percent, and he gave up a ton of home runs in the shortened season.
The Mets will always be in a good position to win any ballgame when they send out their ace. Jacob deGrom has undoubtedly been the best pitcher in baseball over the last few years. He faced this same team on opening day two years ago and struck out 10. Is it possible to say that this man is still getting better? Jacob deGrom added velocity last season, averaging 98.6 MPH on his fastball, which was second among qualified pitchers. deGrom’s strikeout rate increased 7.1% in 2020 and he is the clear favorite to win the NL Cy Young award again in 2021. New York also bolstered its bullpen with the offseason acquisition of Trevor May.
Why The Nationals Could Cover The Spread
The Washington Nationals had a tough season in 2020 after coming off of a World Series title the year before. The Nats heavily regressed in many areas and needed to make some moves in the offseason, which they did. Washington brought on two sluggers in Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber. Adding these two bats will hopefully allow this lineup to keep up with the Mets, Marlins, Braves, and Phillies in the NL East. Both guys finished in the 87th percentile in exit velocity last year and bring pop to the heart of the Nationals order. Let’s not forget about MVP favorite Juan Soto. Soto is back and better than ever as he’s seen improvements every year throughout his young career. The Nationals are a sleeper pick to make some noise this season.
Washington will send out their ace Mad Max Scherzer on opening day. Max has been one of the best pitchers in the league over the last decade and remains one of the most electrifying arms in baseball. Scherzer had a tough 2020 season, but it’s hard to really dwell on that because he is such a routine-driven guy and last season was so funky in so many ways. Nats fans are hoping for a bounce-back year from their heart and soul. Scherzer has seen a lot of success against the Mets over his career, going 12-5 with a 2.70 ERA in 23 starts against New York. With the addition of saves leader Brad Hand in the offseason, Washington has an electric bullpen again in 2021.
Final Mets-Nationals Prediction & Pick
This is going to be an exciting game to watch for many reasons. We’ve got two lineups with big bats and two arms that are extremely fun to watch. I’m predicting that we’ll see some tight battles between these two clubs in 2021. I’m giving the edge to the Mets in this game, though. I’m really going to focus on the pitching matchup here. Scherzer is great, but he is susceptible to the long ball and has a tendency to lose control at times. The Mets possess a deeper lineup that shouldn’t have a problem getting to Max at some point in this game. Jacob deGrom is out of this world and has a legitimate chance to toss a shutout every time he takes the mound. The Mets will show the world why they are a legitimate contender in 2021.
FINAL PICK: Mets ML (-155)