MLB Odds & Picks for Cardinals vs. Nationals: The “Pretty Easy” Decision for This NL Matchup
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images. Pictured: Nolan Gorman & Tommy Edman (Cardinals)
- The Cardinals and Nationals come into this matchup as two teams going in different directions.
- The Cardinals' offense is tough to stop, and it will be especially difficult for Nationals' Erick Fedde.
- How is Kenny Ducey targeting this affair from a betting perspective? Find out below!
Cardinals vs. Nationals Odds
|Time||7:15 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.|
The Cardinals and Nationals are both in different situations at the moment, with the former pushing for October and the latter selling at the deadline. However, both enter with three wins in their last five, and feeling good about the baseball they are playing.
Where does that leave both on Saturday? Let’s break down this matchup.
Cardinals’ Offense in Awesome Shape
The Cardinals are certainly playing well enough to warrant consideration as a serious contender for the National League pennant. They’re hanging around in the NL Central — trailing by just three games — and are tied with the Phillies for the final wild-card spot in the NL.
They’ve hardly done anything wrong of late. St. Louis is rocking a 133 wRC+ in the last two weeks, which ranks fourth in the league. That comes along with a stellar .202 ISO and a high 9.6% walk rate.
They also have the best Barrel Rate in baseball during that time with the sixth-best Hard Hit Rate.
Most importantly, as we’ll get to in a second, they’re also hitting grounders at the sixth-lowest rate.
The staff has been good enough, ranking in the top 10 in ERA, though that is no thanks to Dakota Hudson. The righty owns a 5.40 ERA in the month of July, yielding four runs over 6 2/3 innings in his last start.
Most concerning would be his walks, which have really started to pile up, pushing his walk rate to 10.4%. That’s a nightmare when you’re failing to pitch well to contact — .366 xwOBA on contact and a low 13.2% strikeout rate.
Nationals Feature Poor Offense + Shaky Starter
The Nationals have not hit the ball well of late, which isn’t really anything new. They’re down in 27th in wRC+ over the last two weeks with a very, very low .110 ISO next to some very average strikeout and walk numbers.
They’re not necessarily putting too many balls on the ground — a 42.4% ground ball rate, which sits in the middle of the league — and they’re not really striking out too much.
Washington’s just kind of doing nothing when it puts the bat on the ball, ranking second-worst in the game with a 3.2% Barrel Rate in the last two weeks.
This is a very unimposing offense.
Speaking of unimposing, there’s Erick Fedde. Saturday’s starter is pretty similar to Hudson in that he’s a sinker-baller who tries to pitch to contact to no success.
His ground-ball rate is actually way down from 55.6% in 2020 to 43.5% this season. That’s not only disappointing for Fedde’s standards, it’s worse than league average.
A guy who is actively trying to induce grounders shouldn’t be below league average, and he’s paid the price as a result.
His 44.9% Hard Hit Rate ranks in the bottom 9% of the league, and he carries a .372 xwOBA on contact and high a 11.5% walk rate into this one.
In a situation like this, you simply have to take the better of the two offenses, with both pitchers producing similarly disappointing results. The Cardinals are smacking the ball at the moment — not just from a production standpoint, but also by judging their exit velocity and barrels.
St. Louis has done a far better job of making meaningful contact and is also walking more.
The decision is pretty easy for me here, considering Washington lacks the power to make any sort of impact against Hudson.
I’m also encouraged by the Cardinals’ lack of ground balls, which will do them very well here.
Pick: Cardinals ML (-145)
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