MLB Betting Notes: Things Are Getting Tight Atop the NL East
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Brandon McCarthy
Somehow, the National League East has turned into a gauntlet. We all figured the Braves and Phillies would be better, but the fact that they are contending is definitely eye-popping.
As a neutral observer, it would be fun to see the Braves, Phillies and Nationals keep up the pace and give us a proper battle going down the stretch.
Washington Nationals (-124) @ Atlanta Braves (+104) | O/U: 9
4:10 p.m. ET
Gio Gonzalez (6-2, 2.10 ERA) vs. Brandon McCarthy (5-2, 5.02 ERA)
For Real? The Braves’ offense has been surprisingly good this year. Atlanta ranks fifth in the league with a .329 wOBA (weighted on-base average) and 107 wRC+ (weighted runs created plus). Going off those two stats, the Nationals’ offense has paled in comparison and is sitting in the middle of the pack with a .313 wOBA and 97 wRC+.
However, if you look at expected wOBA (xwOBA) you’ll notice that the Nationals have been a bit unlucky this year, as their .341 xwOBA outruns their actual mark by .28 basis points — the fifth-largest disparity in the league. Meanwhile, the Braves’ xwOBA is only .07 basis points off their .329 wOBA, which is the second-smallest margin in the league. In short, we should anticipate that the Nats’ offense will keep improving, while the Braves’ offense is more in line with their expected performance. — Michael Leboff
Road Warriors: Washington opened as -140 favorites in Atlanta. Since 2016, no team has been more profitable than the Nats as road favorites against division opponents, going 45-19 (70%) straight-up. The line has moved to Nationals -124. When the team has become smaller favorites in this situation, it has gone 19-5 (79%) SU (+33.3% ROI). — John Ewing
Better As She Goes: The Braves have been really good at closing out series so far this year. In game three or later of a series in 2018, Atlanta is 16-3 (+14.1 units), winning by 3.3 runs per game, including an 11-2 mark against division rivals. This is a huge change from previous seasons; the Braves were 70-109 (39.1%) in game three or later of a series between 2015-17. — Evan Abrams
Home of the Braves: Since he was traded from the Athletics to the Nationals in December 2011, Turner Field and SunTrust Park have been houses of horror for Gio Gonzalez. The Nationals are 3-9 in Gio’s 12 career starts in Atlanta, and the hurler has sported a 5.14 ERA, allowing almost a full hit per innings (8.8 hits per 9) in those spots. In Gonzalez’s career, his least profitable road opponent has been Atlanta (-6.2 units), with the Nats losing nine of his last 10 starts in Georgia. — Evan Abrams
Overall, Gonzalez has made 21 career starts vs. the Braves, and as Evan mentioned, they haven’t gone well — regardless of where he has pitched. During those 118.0 innings, he has a 5.11 ERA and 1.45 WHIP vs. Atlanta. Gio has gotten the best of lefty Nick Markakis (9-46, .196), but hasn’t had much success against many other Braves. Just take a look at the following career splits of the other Atlanta regulars who have at least 10 at-bats against the Nats’ left-hander. — Stuckey
Good Forecast: It’s going to be a beautiful day for baseball, but that’s not what Gio Gonzalez and Brandon McCarthy want to see. Temperatures will be in the upper 80s with winds blowing out to left field, which is triggering an 84 Weather Rating at FantasyLabs. Pitchers have posted an average Plus/Minus of -2.31 in Weather Ratings of 80+, whereas hitters have averaged +1.11. Fly-ball hitters can especially take advantage with the help of the wind. Hitters with a fly-ball rate of 40% over the past 15 days have posted a Plus/Minus of +1.94 when the wind is blowing out, to left or to right. The players currently fitting this trend are Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper, Dansby Swanson, Mark Reynolds, Matt Adams and Tyler Flowers. — Mark Gallant
Welcome Back: The Nats activated Ryan Madson off of the DL on Friday, which gives them a very deep and solid back end of the bullpen with him, Brandon Kintzler and closer Sean Doolittle. You can throw in a lefty specialist, Sammy Solis, as well. Washington’s pen has a very average 4.06 ERA (18th in MLB) through Thursday, but it has the potential to be a strength at the end of games if it can stay healthy. — Stuckey