Stuckey’s Braves vs. Nationals Betting Preview: Dallas Keuchel Makes His Season Debut

Stuckey’s Braves vs. Nationals Betting Preview: Dallas Keuchel Makes His Season Debut article feature image

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dallas Keuchel

Braves at Nationals MLB Betting Odds

  • Braves odds: +140
  • Nationals odds: -150
  • Over/Under: 9
  • Probable starters: Dallas Keuchel (–) vs. Stephen Strasburgh (7-4, 3.75 ERA)
  • First pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET on MASN

Tonight in our nation’s capital, Dallas Keuchel will make his long-awaited season debut for the Braves, who recently acquired the ex-Astro to bolster their staff. He will face right-hander Stephen Strasburg in what look likes a spectacular pitching matchup on paper.

Let’s take a closer look at this NL East matchup to identify any potential value on the moneyline or over/under.

While this might look like a great pitching matchup on paper (and could very well turn into a pitcher’s duel), I have questions marks surrounding both starters.

Let’s start with Keuchel, who I just don’t think you can expect to be in peak midseason form tonight in his first MLB start of the year. Yes, he just pitched seven innings of three-run ball in his most recent minor-league tune-up, but he allowed 11 hits to a Double-A squad.

Facing the Nationals will be a major step up in class, especially against a fully confident Nationals offense that can mash lefties. Washington ranks fifth in the majors in OPS against southpaws.

I don’t expect a sparkling performance from Keuchel — and I still have major questions about the Braves bullpen.

Stephen Strasburg gets the nod for the Nats and will have to face a scolding Atlanta offense that has scored just under 7.5 runs per game in 18 games in June. The Braves are 14-4 in those 18 games this month and have scored seven or more runs in 12 of those 18 contests. The Braves dangerous offense can hit everyone, but it’s worth noting that they do rank in the top five in MLB in OPS against righties.

Strasburg has obviously enjoyed plenty of success on the mound in his career but the Braves have consistently given him problems. He owns an impressive 3.18 career ERA but that number drops to 2.82 if you remove 31 career starts against Atlanta.

The Braves have seen him often and see him well. Keep an eye on Freddie Freeman, who is 17-50 (.340) lifetime  with five doubles and four bombs against Strasburg.

If Strasburg can’t go the distance, you will see a Washington pen that owns an MLB-worst 6.13 ERA. That pen also comes in fairly taxed after playing three games over the past two days against the Phillies.

In fairness, the Nats pen has been much better of late, primarily thanks to solid months from Sean Doolittle, Wander Suero and Javy Guerra. However, all three pitched an inning in each of the past two days; none have pitched on three consecutive days in 2019. And this is a pen that already has four arms on the injured list.

Bottom line: Two capable and confident offenses. Major questions about Keuchel’s sharpness. Braves past splits against Strasburg. And two vulnerable pens. This might not be the pitchers duel some may be expecting.

It’s still one baseball game with plenty of variance but I’m willing to back the over at 9 since I make it 9.5.

The Bet: Braves-Nationals Over 9

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