MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Nationals vs. Braves Preview (June 2)

MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Nationals vs. Braves Preview (June 2) article feature image

Rob Carr/Getty Images. Pictured: Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jon Lester.

  • The Atlanta Braves host the Washington Nationals on Wednesday's Major League Baseball card.
  • The Nationals snapped their five-game losing skid in Tuesday's 11-6 victory over the Braves.
  • Michael Arinze breaks down the latest meeting between the Nats and Braves below and explains why he's backing the Washington to triumph as a live underdog.

Nationals vs. Braves Odds

Nats Odds+135
Braves Odds-165
Time7:20 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday morning via BetMGM.

The Washington Nationals snapped a five-game losing streak in a big way Tuesday, racking up 11 runs against the Atlanta Braves in their victory. Five of those runs came against a quality left-hander in Max Fried, who hadn't allowed more than one run in each of his last four starts.

Washington will face another left-hander Wednesday in a battle of southpaws, with Atlanta's Drew Smyly facing Jon Lester. The Braves are priced as high as a -165 favorite its sports books, with Smyly sporting a 5.95 ERA and a 6.43 FIP.

For me, that price seems a bit rich, so let's dig in and see where the value lies in this matchup.

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Washington Loves Hitting Against Lefties

It's been an up and down season for Washington, which finds itself in the National League East cellar with a 22-29 record and sitting six games out of first place.

The Nationals have actually played slightly better than their record when you consider their Pythagorean expectation. Based on runs scored and allowed, it actually gives them a .452 win percentage instead of their actual win percentage of .431 in the category.

Suffice it to say, Washington has to do a better job of converting more of its games into victories.

Washington's offense is in the bottom half of the league with a wRC+ value of 94. However, when facing left-handers, that number jumps to seventh overall with a value of 112. In fact, they've produced a .274/.355/.415 slash line against southpaws and their .355 OBP is the second-highest in all of baseball.

All this bodes well when the Nationals face their second consecutive left-hander in as many days. It should also help that Washington's lineup does have good numbers against  Smyly. In 71 at-bats, iits hitters have a .282/.362/.507 line against him with a .379 wOBA and .225 ISO.

Sometimes in life, you need to experience a bit of success to give you a jumpstart. The Nationals might have just gotten that Tuesday against a quality pitcher like Fried.

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No Home Cooking For Atlanta Pitcher Smyly

Coming into this season, Jon Lester was a pitcher I had circled as one I'd be looking to fade more times than not. While I haven't particularly changed my opinion, I don't think he should be a +135 underdog against Drew Smyly.

I know Lester has yet to register a win, but his 4.41 FIP is more than two runs lower than Smyly's. Individually, his FIP is also a half run lower than his own ERA, which points to some positive regression. In comparison, Smyly's 6.43 FIP is actually going in the opposite direction.

Smyly hasn't necessarily enjoyed pitching at Truist Park this season. He's primarily a flyball pitcher, as evidenced by his career 0.81 GB/FB ratio. As a member of the San Francisco Giants last season, he was effective in his seven appearances, with five of them coming as a starter. While he didn't record a win (0-1), he posted a 3.42 ERA with an even better 2.01 FIP. However, he did benefit from pitching the majority of his innings in San Francisco.

San Francisco's Oracle Park has long been considered a pitcher's park and a place where flyballs die on the warning track. Truist Park doesn't offer the same luxury, according to ESPN's MLB Park Factors, as a higher rater of home runs (1.183) is hit there than on the road.

Smyly can attest to this, considering that he's actually surrendered more home runs (seven) than on the road (six) despite pitching 12 1/3 fewer innings.

Overall, his splits are far worse at home, where he has a 7.80 ERA and hitters have a .283/.313/.700 line against him compared to a 4.94 ERA and .231/.310/.442 line on the road.

Nationals-Braves Pick

More and more, I'm growing more comfortable with placing uncomfortable wagers. This line doesn't stack up well when I assess both starters, in addition to how both teams have fared against left-handed pitching. The Nationals haven't been as bad as they've looked, and to their credit, they have the highest run differential (-21) of any team that's in the last place of their division.

I know all about Smly's 1-0 record with a 1.50 ERA in two starts this season against the Nationals. Yet, both of those outings were at Nationals Park and I think the circumstances will be different when he's back pitching at home where he's struggled.

I took a look at Lester's numbers against the Braves and his teams are 8-4 straight up when he starts and 5-2 on the road for a 27.9% ROI.

It could be worth noting Lester's teams have never lost consecutive outings that he's pitched against the Braves. That trend is active in this spot, as this meeting will be a rematch from May 6 when Smyly and the Braves eked out a 3-2 win over the Nationals on the road.

I like the Nationals to return the favor here and think they're worth a look as +135 underdogs.

Pick: Nationals ML (+135)

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