Dodgers vs. Nationals Betting Picks, Odds & Predictions: Did Nats Overplay Their Hand Before Game 4?

Dodgers vs. Nationals Betting Picks, Odds & Predictions: Did Nats Overplay Their Hand Before Game 4? article feature image

Richard Mackson, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Max Scherzer

  • Get updated betting odds and picks from our MLB expert Sean Zerillo for Game 3 of the NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals.
  • The Nationals are favored in this game, but should you be betting on them to win?

Dodgers vs. Nationals Betting Picks, Odds & Predictions

Probable starters: Rich Hill (4-1 2.45 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (11-7, 2.92 ERA)

  • Dodgers odds: +120
  • Nationals odds: -130
  • Over/Under:  8
  • First pitch:  6:40 p.m. ET on TBS

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

Dave Martinez has gotten the Nationals to this point in the playoffs by being unconventional, but his aggressive pitcher usage finally backfired on Sunday.

In a pivotal Game 3, he brought in Patrick Corbin on two days rest off of 107 pitches, holding a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning.

Corbin allowed six runs on four hits and two walks in less than an inning, and the Dodgers stormed back to a 10-4 victory.

Now Max Scherzer will take the mound for the third time in six days, after starting last Tuesday’s NL Wild Card game and coming on in relief in Friday’s Game 2.

Stephen Strasburg only threw 85 pitches in Game 2, so there’s a chance that they also go to him on two day’s rest here – behind Scherzer if needed in an elimination game – before trying their luck with whatever they can muster in a Game 5.

Can the Nationals stick around with Martinez’s unorthodox approach, or will the Dodgers finally put an end to Washington’s Wild Card run?

The Starters

Hill missed most of the 2019 season with a forearm strain, returning in September only to strain his knee in the first inning of his first start back.

But he threw well in his past two outings – over five combined innings against the Giants and Padres – and seems set to pitch three or four innings here at the start of a bullpen game.

To call Hill, a fastball/curveball pitcher is an understatement – he throws the two offerings over 96% of the time.
He doesn’t throw particularly hard (average 90.3 mph, 15th percentile) but both his fastball (91st percentile) and curveball (95th percentile) have incredibly high spin rates; leading to lots of whiffs and weak contact.
Hill also has, perhaps, the most underrated nickname in sports history.

Dick Mountain (AKA Rich Hill), 2018 Highlights. 🍆🏔️

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) February 12, 2019

Scherzer will be pitching on short rest after throwing in Game 2 – when he struck out the side in the eighth inning.
He was roughed up a bit early in the NL Wild Card Game, where I bet against the Nationals  – the first of what feels like 100 bad beats in the playoffs already.
Mad Max allowed three runs over the first two innings on home runs to Yasmani Grandal and Eric Thames,  in what has been a sub-par second half (by his standards) amidst a career year by most metrics.
Scherzer posted a 4.74 ERA (3.74 FIP, 3.05 xFIP) over his final seven starts in the regular season, and he has now allowed a whopping 10 home runs in his past 43 innings pitched.
After dealing with a midseason back strain, his velocity has also taken a bit of a hit:

I’m still expecting Scherzer to be extremely effective tonight, as always, but pitching on this short of rest is new territory for the three-time Cy Young winner.

The Bullpens

On the season, the Dodgers bullpen ranks sixth in FIP, seventh in xFIP, and fifth in K-BB%. By the same metrics, the Nationals rank 26th, 29th, and 23rd.

As I mentioned, there is no telling how Dave Martinez will deploy his bullpen – though I anticipate we could see Scherzer and Strasburg both pitch on short rest in the same game – even if Strasburg goes for an inning.

Fernando Rodney (31 pitches) and Hunter Strickland (28 pitches) might each be worn down after last night’s game, but no pitcher has thrown consecutive games for the Nationals in this series – and everyone is available in an elimination game.

Other than Pedro Baez, the Dodgers used all of their best relief arms in Game 3 – but Kenta Maeda (5 pitches) and Kenley Jansen (9 pitches) could each pitch in Games 4 and 5 without issue.

Adam Kolarek has worked in all three games but thrown 18 pitches in total.  Julio Urias completed two innings yesterday on 15 pitches after throwing an inning (18 pitches) in Game 2.

I would expect to see rookie Dustin May pitch for the Dodgers after a couple of days off.

The six-foot-six rookie with terrific hair is the Dodgers No. 2 overall prospect, and he offers both electric stuff and the ability to pitch multiple innings behind Rich Hill.

Dustin May, Nasty 95mph Front Hip Sinker. 🤧

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 27, 2019

May posted a 15:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio after transitioning to the Dodgers bullpen (to limit his innings) in September.

Projected Lineups

Data per FantasyLabs

Umpire and Weather Report

Data per Sports Insights

Doug Eddings should be the plate umpire for Game 4. He has a slight lean to the under in his career, with a 239-210-28 (53.2%) record.

Eddings also has a slight lean towards home teams, at 259-218 (54.3%).

Model Projected Odds

Favorite Bet

I projected the Nationals as a -109 favorite in this game, but a -142 favorite in the first five innings with Scherzer on the mound. Therefore, I see some value in the Dodgers’ moneyline, but over the full game and not at a juicier price in the first half. 

I set the total at 8.75 and also see value on the over compared to the listed total of 8.

The Nationals don’t have a Plan B behind Scherzer tonight, and I think that Baez, Jansen, May, and Maeda give the Dodgers a distinct advantage in the late innings.

I might look for Over 8 (-110) closer to game time, and I’m comfortable with the Dodgers moneyline at +118 or better.

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