Is there anything better than weekend baseball? The Washington Nationals will travel to the deep south on Saturday to take on the Atlanta Braves in what should be an epic battle! Join us for our MLB odds series where our Nationals-Braves prediction and pick will be revealed.
Entering play in the midst of a five-game losing streak including eight losses in their last 10 games overall, the Nationals are quickly sinking like they have stepped in a vat of quick sand. Currently in dead-last place in the NL East, Washington sits 12.5 games back in the division as they attempt to dig themselves out of a deep hole. In line for the start will be RHP MacKenzie Gore, who is 3-4 with a 3.66 ERA.
On the other side of things, the Atlanta Braves are like a well-oiled machine with no signs of stopping. Atlanta has jumped out to a 39-24 record, right en route to a sixth-straight division title. Most recently, the Braves have won six in a row and are 4.5 games up on the Miami Marlins for first place in the NL East. Getting the start on Saturday will be rookie Jared Shuster, who is a dead-even 2-2 and sports 4.99 ERA.
Here are the Nationals-Braves MLB odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
MLB Odds: Nationals-Braves Odds
Washington Nationals: +1.5 (-120)
Atlanta Braves: -1.5 (+100)
Over: 9.5 (-105)
Under: 9.5 (-115)
How To Watch Nationals vs. Braves
Time: 4:10 ET/1:10 PT
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Why The Nationals Could Cover The Spread
Although the Nationals may seem out-classed when looking at this Saturday afternoon matchup, keep in mind this is a Washington squad long overdue for a win.
Above all else, it always helps when you have someone on the mound like Gore, who has become a cornerstone of the Nationals starting rotation. In fact, the key to Gore's success as of late has been in large part due to his ability to throw strikes consistently. With only one walk in his previous two outings, Gore is on a tear and could propose a tough challenge for the Braves lineup.
Even if Gore ends up being on his ‘A' game later this afternoon, the Washington offense will need to show up in one way or another. As a whole, the Nationals have been nothing short of below-average at the plate thus far, accounting for just the 24th-most runs in baseball. Believe it or not, Washington nevertheless owns the league's sixth-best batting average with a lethal .262 mark. In addition, the Nats have also had a knack for reaching base, with the 12th-best on-base percentage in the league.
Clearly, Washington must find a way to string together productive at-bats against a pretty rock-solid Braves starting lineup.
Why The Braves Could Cover The Spread
Coming into this one as overwhelming favorites, the Braves must take care of the little things to avoid a massive letdown. Whether it is ripping the cover off the baseball and hitting it into the stands or putting together an absolute gem from the mound, this Atlanta squad can truly do it all.
The Braves can virtually guarantee victory if they get off to a hot start on Saturday, put the ‘Nats out of their assumed misery. Alas, this ended up not being the case in Atlanta's 3-2 win in Game 1 of the series on Friday, as Washington jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Expect the Braves to vie for an early lead, eliminating all hope for an upset from the very beginning by finding a way to get on the scoreboard first.
However, nothing will be more important for Atlanta's chances than a young starting hurler feeling comfortable on the mount. Shudter made his starting debut against the Nationals back on April 2nd, allowing four runs in 4 2/3 innings pitched that earned him a loss. Fast forward more than two months later, and Shuster will have the opportunity to exact his revenge on Atlanta's division rivals.
With that being said, the difference of covering the spread and not covering may fall on the right arm of Shuster, as shutting down an inconsistent Washington lineup will be key
Final Nationals-Braves Prediction & Pick
As a whole, don't spend too much time thinking about this one. While anything can happen in the wild sport of baseball, the Braves are just a clearly better squad that should have no issues with Washington at home.
Final Nationals-Braves Prediction & Pick: Braves -1.5 (+100)