The Washington Nationals take on the San Diego Padres. Check out our MLB odds series for our Nationals Padres prediction and pick.

Anibal Sanchez gets the ball for the Nationals, while Yu Darvish will start for the Padres.

Anibal Sanchez, 38 years old, is fighting to stay in the major leagues. The battle-scarred veteran, who has pitched in the World Series and played for multiple playoff teams in his successful career, is trying to figure out how to get outs without the bite he used to have on his pitches. He was brought into the Nationals' starting rotation just before the All-Star break on July 14. He has made six starts with the club in 2022. In all six starts he has allowed at least three runs and not pitched more than 5 2/3 innings.

Yu Darvish has a 3.40 ERA, and he has generally been a three-run-ERA pitcher for most of the season. His May ERA was 3.08. In June, 2.52. In July, 3.18. In August, he has pitched to a 4.50 ERA, giving up nine runs in 18 innings. He is at the low end of a quality start this month, going exactly six innings in each of his three August appearances. He gave up four runs in one start, three in another, two in another.

Notably, though, Sanchez and the Nationals faced Darvish and the Padres last Saturday. The Nationals won 4-3. Sanchez gave up three runs in five innings, while Darvish gave up four runs in six innings. Viewed in microcosm, one run per start might not seem like a huge deal, but over the course of a full season, it definitely adds up. Six innings pitched and three runs allowed is a 4.50 ERA. Six innings and two runs? A 3.00 ERA. The Padres need Darvish to be a three-run ERA pitcher again. He has slipped in August and needs to attain a higher standard if this team is going to secure a playoff berth.

Courtesy of FanDuel, here are the Nationals-Padres MLB odds.

MLB Odds: Nationals-Padres Odds

Washington Nationals: +1.5 (+150)

San Diego Padres: -1.5 (-184)

Over: 8 (-112)

Under: 8 (-108)

Why The Nationals Could Cover the Spread

The Nationals just gave up Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres in the blockbuster deal which rocked Major League Baseball, and they are more than 35 games under .500. They have one of the worst rosters in baseball. This must mean they are a total pushover for the Padres, right? Wrong.

The Nationals won a game last weekend in the three-game series between the teams. Moreover, it was a game involving these two starting pitchers who will go at it again on Thursday. Yu Darvish is not in command of his pitches the way he was earlier in the season, and while Anibal Sanchez is mediocre at best, a five-inning, three-run outing — while certainly not anything special — will keep the Nats in the game if Darvish doesn't improve.

Why The Padres Could Cover the Spread

After losing a series to the Marlins in Miami, the Padres — who are drifting right now — know they need to pick up the pace. They are hardly in a comfortable position in the National League wild card race, with the Philadelphia Phillies ahead of them in the standings and the Milwaukee Brewers nipping at their heels. Moreover, Yu Darvish could not get a win against Anibal Sanchez last Saturday when these teams met. Is Darvish going to go 0 for 2 against Sanchez? The odds suggest they won't. Moreover, the Padres are playing at home in front of a big, enthusiastic crowd. The Padres' bats woke up on Wednesday in a 10-3 win over Miami, and those bats should stay hot here.

Final Nationals-Padres Prediction & Pick

The Padres did have to make a very long flight for this game, but they did hit the ball well on Wednesday. That should carry over, and Darvish won't lose twice to Anibal Sanchez in one week.

Final Nationals-Padres Prediction & Pick: Padres -1.5