Wednesday MLB Odds, Picks for Cardinals vs. Nationals: Back Scherzer, Washington to Storm Past St. Louis (April 21)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images. Pictured: Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer.
- The St. Louis Cardinals entered the season as favorites to win the National League Central Division.
- However, the Cardinals have struggled to a .500 record out of the gate and look for a big effort in Wednesday's game against the Nationals.
- Kevin Davis explains below why he's backing Washington ace Max Scherzer and his team to get the victory.
Cardinals vs. Nationals Odds
|Time||Wednesday, 4:05 p.m. ET|
The St. Louis Cardinals entered the 2021 season as favorites to win the National League Central Division.
However, I’ve been a skeptic all season due to the fact I view their lineup as weak, plus the bullpen is one of the worst in the ganme. Currently, St. Louis is co-favorite to win the division, as it’s only 8-8 after the first 16 games.
Wednesday’s game against the Washington Nationals is a bad spot for the club. St. Louis must face starting pitcher Max Scherzer, who is one of the league’s best. Additionally, while the Cardinals bullpen is shaky, starting pitcher Carlos Martínez is a liability as well. Put all of that together and Washington looks like an awfully good bet.
Unfortunately, the Nationals at -180 odds aren’t a good wager at the moment, but I would bet their moneyline if it drops down to -165 or better.
St. Louis Cardinals
On paper, that Cardinals appear to have a strong lineup, as they’re averaging the fifth-most runs (5.19) in the league. Seemingly the St. Louis lineup, which includes first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and third baseman Nolan Arenado, should be one of the best in the league. However, they’re currently over-performing my preseason projections.
Even though Goldschmidt and Arenado are underperforming their own projections, three below-average offensive players — Yadier Molina, Tommy Edman and Dylan Carlson — are exceeding expectations. As all the St. Louis players revert to the mean, I believe the lineup will be a liability going forward.
Another reason to bet against the Cardinals is Martínez. Last season, he had a 9.90 ERA and boasts a 7.80 ERA so far this season. Even when you favor in his xFIP of 5.21 in 2020 and 4.91 in 2021, he’s still is one of the worst starting pitchers in the league.
While Martínez is a problem, an even bigger issue is the bullpen. Currently, St. Louis’ bullpen has a impressive 3.86 ERA, but xFIP of 4.86 is the second-worst in baseball.
In games where I like the Cardinals, recently I have been backing their first-five innings moneyline, because I’ve been worried about their bullpen. Over the course of a full game against Scherzer and then having to rely on their bullpen, I have a hard time seeing how St. Louis has a reasonable path to victory.
The best reason to bet on the Nationals is because of Scherzer. Anytime he’s on the mound, you must consider betting on Washington.
Last season, Scherzer had his worst ERA since 2012, even though his it was only 3.74, which is a decent number for any other pitchers. This year, Scherzer has an 0-1 record, with a 2.37 ERA and a 3.49 xFIP. He also has a strikeout rate of 11.37 strikeouts per nine innings. Most importantly, Scherzer can be expected to pitch around six innings each time he gets the ball.
Washington might be undervalued here, because of its record. However, the Nationals are also undervalued because their lineup is averaging only 3.64 runs per game, which is the sixth worst in the league.
However, I am not worried about the batters, as they have been without Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber for several games this season. The top of the lineup, led by Trea Turner and Juan Soto, is a sleeping giant that will cause heartburn once they get hot.
Currently, both players have yet to play up to their potential this season, but when they hit their stride, Washington will be a dangerous team.
In my opinion, the Nationals are obvious favorites. Unfortunately, the betting odds back my opinion and their ML is listed sitting at -180 odds. According to my model, Washington should be -173 favorites, so my strategy is to wait for the price to hopefully drop to -165 or better.
If you are a run-line bettor, my model does like the Nationals -1.5 (+105) run line. Personally, I don’t think that I can stomach having to rely on Washington’s underperforming lineup to win by two runs or more even against Martínez and the Cardinals’ bullpen.
That is why I prefer the ML, even though it comes at a steep price.
Pick: Washington ML (-165 or better)