Thursday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Nationals vs. Braves Betting Preview (June 3)

Thursday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Nationals vs. Braves Betting Preview (June 3) article feature image
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Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Ronald Acuna Jr.

  • The Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves wrap up their series in a Thursday matinee at Truist Park.
  • Washington sends struggling veteran Patrick Corbin to the mound against Atlanta rookie Tucker Davidson, who will make his second career start.
  • Kevin Davis previews Nationals vs. Braves and makes his betting prediction below.

Nationals vs. Braves Odds

This preview was published before Atlanta shuffled its rotation and sent rookie Tucker Davidson to the mound instead of Ian Anderson. It has been modified to reflect the change.

Nationals Odds +120
Braves Odds -143
Over/Under 9.5
Time 12:20 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Wednesday evening and via FOX Bet.

In the competitive NL East, the New York Mets are in first place and everyone else is behind in the dust. On Thursday afternoon in the last game of a four-game series, the second-place Atlanta Braves host the Washington Nationals.

Atlanta is heavily favored and why would it not be? The Braves may have a losing record, but they went into the season with the expectation that they would make the playoffs. The Braves have a strong lineup, and thus far unreliable starting pitching.

The question for Thursday’s matinee is if the Braves deserve to be heavy favorites, or if there’s value on the struggling Nats as underdogs.

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Washington Nationals

If the Nationals win, it will be because Corbin forgets what year it is. On the 2019 World Series champion Nationals, Corbin had a 14-7 record with a 3.25 ERA, and a 3.59 xFIP. It’s all been downhill for Corbin ever since.

In 2020, Corbin had a 2-7 record with a 4.66 ERA, and a 4.12 xFIP. This season Corbin has regressed further with a 3-4 record with a 6.23 ERA, and a 4.32 xFIP. While Corbin’s current xFIP is almost two runs lower than his ERA, he still has a negative WAR of -0.2.

Backing up Corbin is a Washington lineup that is averaging only 3.9 runs per game. The MLB average this season is 4.33 runs per game, so for the Nats to win games they must relying on their pitching.

There are signs that Corbin has been unlucky over the last two years, but Nationals bettors should tread lightly in Corbin’s starts for the time being.

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Atlanta Braves

Unlike the Nationals, the Braves’ lineup is doing very well this season. Atlanta is averaging 4.88 runs per game, which is the eighth-best in the league. As the highest scoring team in the NL East, the Braves have a chance to make a divisional championship run with four full months remaining in the season.

The Braves are led by MVP favorite Ronald Acuña Jr. and reigning MVP Freddie Freeman. Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley are putting together strong seasons as well. My model likes the Braves’ likely lineup for Thursday’s game to score 4.56 runs in a typical ballgame.

Atlanta was originally slated to send promising righty Ian Anderson to the mound, but will reshuffle its rotation for next week against the Dodgers and throw Anderson on Friday.

Instead, the Braves will throw rookie Tucker Davidson, who gave up three runs in six innings in his Major League debut against the Mets on May 18.

The lefty is the the No. 8 prospect in Atlanta’s system and doesn’t project as a dominant strikeout pitcher, but has been stellar in three minor league starts so far in 2021.

Nationals-Braves Pick

I am not typically a fan of betting on heavy favorites, but my model likes the Braves on Thursday. They have an edge in every facet of the game against the Nationals.

The Nationals are relying on an unreliable Corbin. The Nats’ lineup has been dreadful while Atlanta’s lineup is one of the best in the league.

I like the Braves at their opening line of -143, but I would not be surprised if the line moves. That is why I only recommend betting Atlanta up to -150.

Pick: Atlanta Braves Moneyline -143 (FOX Bet). Would bet up to -150

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