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|O 8 (-115)
|U 8 (-105)
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This is a tough one to predict. On the one hand, the Nationals finally get to play. After the season-opening series against the Mets was wiped out after a Covid outbreak within the team. They will be eager to get out of the gates and have their ace on the mound but still will have early season jitters. On the other hand, the Braves are ice cold and need a win. But still, Max Scherzer is just too much.
Garcia’s 2021 record: (2-2)
|Atlanta Braves vs Washington Nationals
|National Park, Washington DC
|Monday, April 5, 4:05 p.m. EST
|How to Watch
Simply put, the best reason to bet on the Nationals is that they have Max Scherzer on the mound. Since he went to D.C. in 2015, he’s been the best pitcher in baseball, ranking first among all qualified pitchers in innings pitched (1,118), strikeouts (1,463), and fWAR (34.4). He also is second in K/9 (11.78) and third in ERA (2.80).
From 2013-19 he finished in the top five in Cy Young voting — winning the award three times during that stretch — and was an All-Star every year. But for the first time in almost a decade, Scherzer struggled in 2020. He went 5-4 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.38 WHIP — both the highest marks in his career since 2012.
But that’s a time of the past. This is a fresh season and even with some contract question marks in the air, he should be dominant this year and it’s safe to expect that to start on day one.
He’s not exactly who you want to see if you’ve been scuffling like the Braves.
Atlanta’s offense must be really big Vanilla Ice fans, because so far this season, that’s how hot their offense has been — ice, ice baby. The Braves just got swept out of Philadelphia this weekend scoring just three total runs in the 27 innings. They lost 3-2 in the opener, 4-0 in the second game, and 2-1 on Sunday.
It’s no secret why the Braves couldn’t score — it’s because all of their big hitters did almost literally nothing. Freddy Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies and Marcell Ozuna combined to go an impossibly cold 3-for-44 (0.68) in the three-game set.
Atlanta’s offense is obviously better than this. As of now, Pablo Sandoval is responsible for two-thirds of their runs generated — and last I checked it’s 2021, not 2011 — so that’s not exactly a good thing. Add on to it that the franchise — like it or not — is involved in this All-Star game drama with the MLB deciding to pull the contest out of Atlanta in protest of the new voting laws in Georgia, and there’s a lot of question marks around this team right now.
The good news for the Braves? Their pitching has been lights out. So far the Atlanta staff has given up just three runs per game and they get to turn to veteran lefty Drew Smyly in this one. Smyly comes off of a dominant spring: a 3.29 ERA and 16 strikeouts with just two walks in 13.2 innings.
The Nationals have essentially been the Squidward meme from Spongebob: when he’s looking out his window watching Spongebob and Patrick play in the field while he’s stuck inside, that’s been the Nationals this Opening Weekend.
Four players tested positive for Covid-19 in the organization and while it’s not known exactly who it was, we do know Kyle Schwarber, Jon Lester, Josh Harrison and Alex Avila are all not expected to be available for the series.
While the Nationals faded from the National spotlight quickly in 2020, remember they are the 2019 World Series Champions and they still believe their window is open to win a division and make a run at the Commissioner’s Trophy.
The Nats have Scherzer, Steven Strausburg, Patrick Corbin, and now veteran Jon Lester as the top four in their rotation. Then, they grabbed Kyle Schwarber to replace Adam Eaton and added Josh Bell as well. They also have Trea Turner and Victor Robles, but the star of this franchise, and maybe all of baseball, is Juan Soto.
The Nationals will go as he goes and he comes off a season where he hit .351, with an absolutely insane .490 OBP as he belted 13 home runs and drove in 37 RBI in just 47 games.
Expect at least one big hit from him in this one, even if it is a lefty-lefty matchup.
Tony writes about baseball for WSN.com after recently graduating with his Masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to that, Tony was a local sports reporter for MLive Media Group, based out of Jackson, Michigan where he covered everything from high school to professional sports. He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 with a degree in journalism. During his time there he covered the Michigan State football and men’s basketball teams from 2013-15 and hosted a sports radio show on WDBM 89FM.More info on Tony Garcia
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