Dodgers vs. Nationals Betting Picks, Predictions & Odds: Will Nats Get to Buehler, Kershaw?

Dodgers vs. Nationals Betting Picks, Predictions & Odds: Will Nats Get to Buehler, Kershaw? article feature image
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USA Today Sports. Pictured: Dave Roberts

  • The betting odds for Nationals-Dodgers Game 5 opened with the Dodgers as favorites (-145 moneyline odds), compared to +158 for the Nationals.
  • L.A. has ace Walker Buehler starting with Clayton Kershaw available in relief, so it's no wonder that the odds have moved in their direction (currently -168)
  • Which betting picks are offering the most value for tonight's NLDS winner-take-all Game 5? Sean Zerillo examines the matchup and gives his favorite bets.

Dodgers vs. Nationals Betting Picks, Predictions & Odds for Game 5

Probable starters: Stephen Strasburg (18-6 3.32 ERA) vs. Walker Buehler (14-4, 3.26 ERA)

  • Dodgers odds: +146
  • Nationals odds: -168
  • Over/Under:  7
  • First pitch:  8:37 p.m. ET on TBS

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


The Nationals and Dodgers meet on Wednesday night in a deciding Game 5, with Los Angeles hoping to advance to their fourth consecutive NLCS, while the Nats look to position themselves one stage away from the World Series for the first time since 1981, when they were the Montreal Expos.

Compared to a rollicking Braves-Cardinals NLDS, this series hasn’t been nearly as dramatic.

Save for Game 3, there has only been one lead change in this series – but the outcome of Game 3 still hovers over Game 5.

In that 10-4 Dodgers win, the Nationals held a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning when they brought Patrick Corbin in to pitch after two days of rest.

The lefty was subsequently shelled for six runs in two-thirds of an inning – and I can’t imagine the Nationals deploying him tonight for the third time in five days.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers should have a tandem of aces on the mound on Wednesday with Clayton Kershaw available in relief behind Walker Buehler.

But now that he’s back on regular rest after his Game 2 win can Stephen Strasburg defeat the Dodgers’ two best arms, win his second game of the series, and help the Nationals upend the NL favorite?

The Starters

Despite the Nationals playoff struggles, Stephen Strasburg has been dominant in the postseason with a 0.64 ERA and a 38:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio over four starts, five appearances, and 28 innings.

Between the NL Wild Card Game and Game 2 of this series, Strasburg essentially threw a 119 pitch complete game – 9 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 14 K – while recording two wins.

Before Game 2, I highlighted Strasburg’s new approach this year – which involved fewer four-seam fastballs in exchange for additional two-seam fastballs and curveballs.

Between the new pitch mix and his staying healthy, this is arguably a career year for the 31-year-old righty as he likely heads to free agency.

Strasburg threw a curveball on 34 of his 85 pitches in Game 2, recording nine of his 13 swinging strikes.

As my colleague Stuckey has pointed out, Strasburg also owns some reverse splits this year, with a lower wOBA against righties (.251) than vs. lefties (.276).

It’s a wonder that the Dodgers keep stacking so many left-handed bats against him when they should probably play their best overall lineup.

For Strasburg’s career, the splits are a dead heat, with a .276 wOBA to either handedness.

That’s probably a result of his terrific changeup, which has helped to maintain his overall effectiveness despite experiencing a velocity drop by more than three mph since his 2010 debut.

All pitchers lose velocity over time, but the great ones, like Strasburg, figure out how to adjust their approach. A plus changeup, if sequenced properly with a fastball, helps both pitches to play up no matter the velocity.

Walker Buehler will take the mound for the Dodgers on five days rest after recording eight strikeouts over six shutout innings in game one. He allowed just four baserunners in yet another dominant start at Dodger Stadium.

Before game 1, I discussed Buehler’s dramatic home/road splits, in addition to his odd cutter/slider combination.

But he also featured a more traditional high fastball/ low curveball look, which is extremely dominant due to their spin rates:

Buehler ranks in the 93rd percentile in fastball spin rate and 96th percentile in curveball spin rate; and both offerings generate a high number of whiffs.

With a sub 2.00 ERA at home, Buehler hasn’t needed much pitching help behind him this year, but on Wednesday, the Dodgers will have everyone available in an elimination game.

Including Clayton Kershaw.

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.

The Dodgers used both Julio Urias (29 pitches) and Kenta Maeda (25 pitches) in Games 3 and 4, while the Nationals did not use a pitcher on back-to-back days in this series.

Maeda and lefty specialist Adam Kolarek, have each pitched in three out of the four games, but Kolarek has only thrown 18 pitches in total.

In any close contest, I would expect Clayton Kershaw to enter the game.

He has been effective in three relief pitching appearances over the past three postseasons:

  • 2018: A clean ninth inning in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Brewers
  • 2017: Four innings of shutout relief in Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros
  • 2016: A two-out save in Game 5 of the NLDS in Washington

In the Game 2 preview, I noted both Kershaw’s declining fastball velocity and usage, in addition to the fact that the gap between his fielding independent metrics and their league average equivalent have not been closer in about 10 years.

He has responded by increasing his slider usage over time, to the point where it’s now nearly a 50/50 split with the fastball usage over two years.

More than 50 of his 99 pitches in Game 3 were sliders, generating 13 swinging strikes against four bases allowed – all of which were left at the middle-in quadrant for right-handed hitters; where he produced one whiff but permitted three hits.

Who knows what the Nationals have in store, relief-wise for tonight.

Their preferred plan is Strasburg for seven innings, followed by Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson – but this Nationals bullpen, which entered the playoffs with the worst ERA for a playoff bullpen ever, has yet to rear its ugly head at the wrong time as it did so many times during the regular season.

The Dodgers might be worth a live look in a tight game if Strasburg is out before completing six innings.

Projected Lineups

Data per FantasyLabs

Umpire and Weather Report

Data per Sports Insights

Alfonso Marquez is the plate umpire for Game 5. He has a slight lean to the Over (52.9%), including seven overs in his eight postseason games behind the dish since 2005.

Marquez generally prefers home teams (56.6%) and specifically home underdogs – who are 75-71 (51.4%) with Marquez behind the plate; generating a consistent $100 bettor $2,017 (13.8% ROI).

Home favorites are 177-122 (59.2%) under the watch of Marquez but have not been nearly as profitable as underdogs.

Trends to Know

In previous Game 5 situations of Divisional Series matchups (dating back to 2005), the visiting team is 11-6, underdogs are 10-7, and the under is 9-6-2.

The Nationals are 18-18 as a road underdog this season and 52-52 over the past three years, generating a consistent $100 bettor +$1,302.

Strasburg is 12-9 as a road underdog, including a 4-2 record in 2019.

The Dodgers went 60-23 (72.3%) as a home favorite this year, winning by an average margin of 2.1 runs. but they were just 44-49 (47.3%) against the spread in this spot.

The Nationals were 40-23 (63.5%) as a spread underdog this year, including a 27-16 road record.

Model Projected Odds

Favorite Bet

I projected the Dodgers as a -141 favorite in this game, and I set the total at 7.4 runs. Therefore, I see slight (but not actionable) value on the Nationals and no betting value on the total.

I previously recommended that you bet the Nationals series moneyline before Game 1, and if so, you would have a much better price for tonight (+200) than you will find on the board for Game 5.

Holding that ticket, I’m not extra-incentivized to bet on this game as a standalone – but I do see betting value if you can get +160 or better on the Nats.

That number implies a 38.5% win probability; an expected value gap of three percent from my projection (41.5%).

I like the Nationals significantly more in the first five innings (46%), but so does the market at +125, an implied probability of 44.4%.

I would need to see +130 (43.5%) or higher on Washington to consider betting their F5 moneyline.

Exercise some excruciating patience and wait until closer to first pitch if you’re looking to bet the underdog here.

And as I mentioned in the bullpen section, take a look at betting the Dodgers live if Strasburg is out before the end of the sixth inning.