Cardinals vs. Nationals Game 4 Picks, Odds & Predictions: Will Washington Sweep?

Cardinals vs. Nationals Game 4 Picks, Odds & Predictions: Will Washington Sweep? article feature image

Jeff Curry, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Dakota Hudson

  • The Washington Nationals are betting favorites to advance to the World Series on Tuesday night. The odds opened at -155 and they've continued to move in their direction.
  • The over/under for the game sits at 7.5 and our MLB betting expert Sean Zerillo find value in a bet on the total.

Cardinals vs. Nationals Picks, Odds & Predictions

Probable starters: Dakota Hudson (16-7, 3.35 ERA) vs. Patrick Corbin (14-7, 3.25 ERA)

  • Cardinals odds: +145
  • Nationals odds: -170
  • Over/Under: 7.5
  • First pitch: 8:05 p.m. ET on TBS

On Tuesday night, the Nations can advance to their first World Series in franchise history; within a week of winning their first playoff series as the Washington Nationals, and their first since 1981 – when they were still the Montreal Expos.

The Nats currently lead the Cardinals 3-0 in the NLCS, with two home games left to play, and will send out an elite starter for the third consecutive day with offseason signing Patrick Corbin set to pitch.

Odds as of Tuesday morning and via PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

Corbin nearly became the scapegoat in the NLDS, allowing six runs in relief to the Dodgers in a Game 3 loss, before Washington rallied to win the final two games in the series.

However, Corbin has made two relief appearances since then, recording five consecutive outs, and will make his first start on Tuesday since Oct. 3 – when he fell to the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLDS.

When Bryce Harper left in the offseason, the Nats used some of his money on Corbin’s six-year, $140 million deal. Can the lefty now help Washington clinch the NL Pennant for the first time in their franchise history?

The Starters

Both Corbin and Hudson will be making their second career playoff starts on Tuesday, but that’s about where their similarities end.

Corbin is a power pitcher with high strikeout and walk totals, who has shown a propensity to allow hard contact when opposing batters can square him up.

Meanwhile, Hudson is a young ground-ball specialist who relies on his sinker to get him out of trouble in big spots.

And as I have argued in the past, he’s also extremely overdue for regression.

Hudson was incredibly valuable for the Cardinals down the stretch, posting a sub 2.00 ERA over his final nine starts.

But having the highest walk rate (11.4%) amongst qualified starters, paired with one of the lowest strikeout rates in that same group, is not a recipe for long-term success.

Hudson also had the highest ground-ball rate (56.9%) amongst qualified starters, leading to an average home run total and tons of double-play opportunities.

As a result, he was able to sustain a low BABIP and high strand rate, helping to keep his ERA respectable despite a (deserved) 1.41 WHIP.

Hudson did generate seven swinging strikes against the Braves, but saw his way through trouble multiple times and was pulled before the end of the 5th inning.

If Hudson can avoid the walks and keep his sinker located low in the zone, he should be able to avoid trouble and get the Nats to pound his pitches into the ground.

His sinkers, if located in the middle of the zone or lower, generate grounders at an absurd rate:

I highlighted Patrick Corbin before Game 1 against the Dodgers, and would make a note of the following facts:

  • Top-15 pitcher by both groundball rate (49.5%) and strikeout rate
  • Throws his slider more frequently (37%) than all but just a few pitchers
  • Had the third-best slider in 2019 by total pitch value, and eighth-best on a weighted basis

Corbin prefers to throw his slider low and away to lefties, or down and in to righties, and he was able to use it here effectively against Cody Bellinger in Game 4:

Patrick Corbin, Filthy 82mph Slider. 😷

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 10, 2019

Batters have swung at sliders in that area of the dead zone 14 times in the playoffs and whiffed on 12 of those swings.

As you can see, that’s the money spot for Corbin in terms of generating whiffs with the slider (view from catcher’s perspective):

Batters whiffed on nearly 80% of their swings in that area during the regular season.

Corbin was extremely productive during his September start against the Cardinals, recording 11 strikeouts in six innings, with at least seven coming on the slider:

The Bullpens

On the season, the Cardinals bullpen ranks 11th in FIP, 12th in xFIP, and 15th in K-BB%. By the same metrics, the Nationals rank 26th, 29th, and 23rd.

The Nats have received 21.2 innings from their three starting pitchers thus far in this series, helping to avoid turning too frequently to the bullpen with the worst ERA entering the playoffs in MLB history,

Sean Doolittle pitched in Games 1 and 2 for Washington, but no other Nationals reliever has entered more than one game in this series. Doolittle (36 pitches) has thrown twice as many pitches as any other Nats reliever.

The Cardinals used Daniel Ponce de Leon (49 pitches) for an extended role in Game 3, while also turning to John Brebbia for the third time this week.

However, their bullpen is otherwise rested, and I expect Mike Shildt to have a quick hook with Dakota Hudson if he gets into some early trouble on Tuesday.

Projected Lineups

Data from FantasyLabs:

Umpire and Weather Report

Data from Sports Insights:

Phil Cuzzi will be the plate umpire, and he is the third-most profitable ump for under bettors in our database, with a 55.8% lean to the under since 2005, generating a consistent $100 bettor $3,695 in profit (7.8% ROI).

That under record is 4-2-0 in postseason games.

Cuzzi is also a reliable umpire for home favorites, sporting a 206-114 (64.4%) record over the same period, suitable for a profit of +$2,768 (8.6% ROI).

Trends to Know

As of writing, more than 70% of the cash and tickets being bet on this total are backing the over, triggering the following contrarian system:

That system is 100-81-19 (55.2%) in 2019, including a 6-2 record in the postseason; generating as consistent $100 under bettor +$1,506.

Series Moneyline Corner

Before Game 3, I suggested that the Nationals should be listed as a -1900 series favorite (implied 95%) if they took a 3-0 lead in the series.

Their series price re-opened at -3300 (implied 97.1%) following Monday’s win, while the Cardinals are listed around +1600 (implied 5.9 %), meaning that I don’t see series moneyline value on either side.

If the Cardinals win Game 4, I would still show the Nats as a -809 series favorite (implied 89% win probability).

Model Projected Odds

Favorite Bet 

I projected the Nationals as a -153 favorite in this game, and I set the total at nine runs. Therefore, I don’t see value compared to the moneyline, but I do see value on the total. 

There is a 5.5% edge between over 7.5 (-115), and my projection (9 runs) on the full game total.

I played over 7.5 (-115) for a half unit, and consider the over actionable up to 7.5 (-120), or 8 (-105); the latter of which represents a 4.6% edge in expected value from my projection.

I do see a more substantial edge (closer to eight percent) on over 4 (-120) in the first five innings (F5), as my projection is 5.16, but I prefer the full-game over.

That being said, I’m going against both the contrarian under system and a strong under umpire in Phi Cuzzi.

As for the sides, I would consider St. Louis at +175, or Washington at -135 on the full game moneyline. Alternatively, I would play St. Louis at +169, or Washington at -131 on the F5 moneyline.

All four of those moneyline targets represent a gap of three percent in expected value from my projection – but I’m not expecting to see enough line movement to find an actionable play on either side.

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