Braves vs. Nationals Odds, Preview, Prediction: How to Back Atlanta, Charlie Morton (Friday, August 13)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Charlie Morton.
- The Braves look to continue their red-hot run on Friday against the Nationals.
- Veteran Charlie Morton will start for Atlanta opposite Josiah Gray, the Nats' No. 2 prospect.
- D.J. James breaks down the matchup below and delivers his pick for the game.
Braves vs. Nationals Odds
|Time||7:05 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday and via DraftKings.|
The rebuilding Nationals will have No. 2 prospect Josiah Gray on the mound against the revamped Atlanta Braves lineup on Friday night. Charlie Morton takes the hill for Atlanta in what looks to be a matchup of the savvy veteran vs. the highly touted rookie.
Atlanta’s trade-deadline additions have helped move it to just one-half game back of first place in the National League East. The Braves are 8-2 in their last 10 games, so is their juiced line worth bettors’ backing?
Adding Jorge Soler and Joc Pederson seemed to be great moves for the Braves. Soler sports a 266 wRC+ and .619 slugging percentage in 22 plate appearances with Atlanta when facing righties, like Gray. Pederson, meanwhile, sits at 110 wRC+ with a .359 OBP in 64 plate appearances.
Losing Ronald Acuña Jr. took its toll on this lineup, but Atlanta seems to at least have some semblance of his production from these two guys. Travis d’Arnaud, Dansby Swanson, Adam Duvall and Austin Riley have also been performing well, especially against right-handers.
Gray has not yielded much hard contact in his four starts, but he does have nine walks. Soler and Freeman look to have great matchups against a rookie who has a tendency to miss the plate occasionally.
Morton has aged like a fine wine. He has a 3.52 ERA and ranks in the 82nd percentile of hard-hit percentage, which shows he can still get the job done.
Since the trade deadline, the Nationals have hit well, but Morton’s curveball could give issues to the high-percentage strikeout guys in the Nats’ lineup like Juan Soto and Josh Bell. This should give him a leg up on the competition’s lineup.
When it comes to the bullpen, the Braves rank 20th in the MLB in xFIP at 4.40. Richard Rodríguez has not given up an earned run in an Atlanta uniform, while Jesse Chavez, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith are the other formidable options for the Braves out of the ‘pen. Given Morton’s ability to throw 5-7 innings per game, the Atlanta relief corps should only have to cover a few innings on Friday.
Selling at the deadline to add the likes of Gray was the right move for Washington, but losing the likes of Trea Turner and Kyle Schwarber obviously weakens the lineup in 2021. Soto, Carter Kieboom and Yadiel Hernandez have done what they could to keep the offensive numbers intact, but Bell and Alcides Escobar will more than likely regress to their means.
Washington does have a 9.2% walk rate since the deadline, so this will help Morton rack up pitches, but other than that, the veteran starter will carve up lefties in the lineup. He does have reverse splits, so a righty-heavy lineup will probably help the Nats, so it will depend on what manager Dave Martinez puts together.
Losing Daniel Hudson and Brad Hand at the deadline took what was already a depleted bullpen and made it much worse. Ryne Harper is the only arm with a sub-4.00 xFIP. Gray essentially needs to pitch deep into this game or Atlanta will be able to improve upon a likely early lead. With the lack of backup, pulling Gray before the sixth inning will hurt Washington’s chances at succeeding in this one.
Yes, Morton has reverse splits, and the Braves bullpen is not necessarily stacked, but both Pederson and Soler have played well since landing in Atlanta. A change of scenery seems to have worked for both of them.
The line is a bit juiced, so take the Braves at -1 (-120) and if this gets too much steam take the -1.5 spread up to -100. The Braves will be able to add to an early lead against the abysmal Washington bullpen.
Pick: Braves -1 (-120)