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Diamondbacks vs. Nationals MLB Odds & Picks: Back the Over as Washington’s Lineup Normalizes (Thursday, April 15)

Diamondbacks vs. Nationals MLB Odds & Picks: Back the Over as Washington’s Lineup Normalizes (Thursday, April 15) article feature image

Patrick Smith/Getty Images. Pictured: Juan Soto.

  • After a COVID-related delay to start their season, the Nationals are just 3-6.
  • An already average Arizona lineup took a hit last week with Ketel Marte heading to the IL.
  • Michael Ianniello explains why the pitching matchup could be good news for hitters.

Diamondbacks vs. Nationals Odds

Diamondbacks Odds +148
Nationals Odds -176
Over/Under 8.5
Time 7:05 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday at evening and via FanDuel.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have had a streaky start to the 2021 season. They lost their first three games of the season, won two, dropped the next three, won two, and now have lost two in a row. If the pattern holds, they should lose their next game, right?

The Washington Nationals had the start of their season delayed due to COVID issues. Since returning, they have started just 3-6 and have been shut out in three of their first nine games. The Nationals are coming off a series win against St. Louis, taking two of their three games against the Cardinals.

The Nationals and Diamondbacks begin a four-game series at Nationals Park on Thursday night. Former Diamondback Patrick Corbin will get the ball for Washington and face off against Arizona’s Merrill Kelly.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Merrill Kelly will make his third start of the year for the Diamondbacks, and the first two did not go great. Kelly is off to an 0-2 start and has allowed 14 hits and nine runs in 10 innings. After pitching four seasons in the KBO, Kelly was decent in his last two seasons with Arizona.

The right-handed Kelly made 32 starts in 2019 and had a 4.42 ERA and 4.51 FIP. In 2020, he lowered his ERA to 2.59 and FIP to 3.99, going 3-2 in five starts. Kelly had a 20.3 K% in 2019 and a 23.2 K% in 2020. He has just five strikeouts and a 10.9 K% so far in 2021, so expect some positive regression for him in this department.

The Diamondbacks offense took a huge blow with Ketel Marte heading to the IL last week. Hopefully it’s just a short stint for Marte, who was off to a blistering start, batting .462 with a .567 wOBA and 256 wRC+ in the six games before his injury.

It has been infielder Eduardo Escobar who has picked up the slack with Marte out of the lineup. Escobar is hitting .321 in the last seven games, and hit a home run in four-straight games following the Marte injury. Escobar has four multi-hit games in the last five starts.

As a team the D-Backs have been pretty middle-of-the-road on offense, ranking 11th in runs per game, 17th in batting average, 18th in wOBA and 20th in wRC+.

The Snakes have just 89 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers (compared to 397 for righties), but they have hit much better against south paws early in the year. Arizona is batting .275 vs. lefties, good for ninth in the league, compared to .218 vs. right handers.

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Washington Nationals

After spending the first six seasons of his career with the Diamondbacks, left-hander Patrick Corbin is in his third season with the Nationals. He lasted just 4 1/3 innings in his first start of the year, allowing six runs on six hits to the Dodgers.

Corbin really declined last season, going 2-7 with a 4.66 ERA and 4.17 FIP, his worst numbers since 2016. His 8.22 K/9 was significantly lower than the 10.6 he posted in 2019. Corbin’s fastball averages just 90 miles per hour and was hammered by opponents last season.

It is still hard to judge what this Nationals lineup will be given all the disruption they have faced. Offseason acquisitions Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber have played just two and three games, respectively. Josh Harrison has just 11 at bats this year, though he has picked up six hits in those three games.

The one thing we know for sure from this Washington team is that Juan Soto is extremely good at baseball. Through nine games, Soto is batting .375 with two home runs and seven RBIs. He has four multi-hit games already this year and just two that he was held hitless.

So far this year Washington is 29th in runs per game, but they are fifth in team batting average. The Nats are leaving the eighth-most runners on base per game.

Diamondbacks-Nationals Pick

The Arizona Diamondbacks have been about league average offensively this year but have been much stronger against left-handed pitchers, like the one they’ll face Thursday.

For the Nationals, positive regression is coming for the bats. They have the fifth-highest batting average this year, yet just the 29th most runs per game. That tells me they are just getting unlucky and need their hits to come at more opportune times to get more runs across the plate.

Juan Soto is one of the best hitters in all of baseball, and getting guys like Josh Bell, Kyle Schwarber and Josh Harrison consistently in their lineup will only help their numbers continue to rise.

Both Merrill Kelly and Patrick Corbin are declining pitchers at this point, and neither seem capable of completely shutting down a lineup.

I like this total to go over the 8.5 (-120) and would play it up to 9 (-105)

Pick: Over 8.5 (-120) (Play over 9 to -105)

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