Nationals vs. Cubs MLB Betting Odds & Pick: Is There Value on Chicago? (Monday, May 17)
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Baez (9).
- The Chicago Cubs will take on the Washington Nationals in a Monday night showdown.
- Despite both squads owning losing records, the Cubs have shown they're a better team. Can they produce on Monday?
- Kevin Davis breaks down the game and shares a betting pick and prediction based on his analysis below.
Nationals vs. Cubs Odds
|7:40 p.m. ET
The Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals are two peas in the same pod. Both teams have losing records and an outside chance of making the playoffs this season. Even when looking at the run differentials for both teams, Chicago (-2) and Washington (-7) are not far apart.
With parity between both teams, each game in this week’s series will come down to the pitching matchups. Promising rookie Adbert Alzolay will get the start for the Cubs tonight and aging veteran Jon Lester will take the mound for the Nationals.
The question for Monday night’s game is if the Cubbies have enough of an edge to merit betting on them as heavy favorites. Let's dig into the matchup and see where we can find some betting value.
The Nationals are Sputtering on Offense
The Nationals' weakness as a team is clear: their lineup has not produced enough runs this season. Currently the Nationals are averaging 3.94 runs per game, which is the sixth-lowest in the league.
There are many reasons why Washington has had trouble scoring runs, and I believe that fundamentally its lineup has problems. They have just four players who should perform above average or better offensively — Juan Soto, Trea Turner, Josh Bell, and Kyle Schwarber.
Of their four best offensive players, only Turner is meeting his expectations. Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber’s are not producing enough runs this season. Soto, the Nats' best player, is having a good season but isn't playing to the level most expected.
In addition to the Nationals lineup, they are also vulnerable to the Cubbies on Monday because of Lester. This season in three starts, Lester has a 2.25 ERA. However, Lester also has a 4.70 xFIP, which suggests that he should regress this season.
Additionally, Lester has a strikeout rate of only 5.63 strikeouts per nine innings. Last season Lester had a 5.16 ERA, and a 5.11 xFIP. Lester is no longer the reliable starting pitcher that he once was.
Strong Core Lineup Carrying the Cubs
Unlike the Nationals, the Cubs' strength is their lineup.
Chicago’s lineup is averaging 4.54 runs per game, which is 0.19 runs higher than the average MLB team (4.35 runs per game). The Cubs should benefit from the return of Ian Happ to the lineup from the IL. With a core of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Báez, the Cubs should continue to have a strong offense.
Alzolay should benefit from the run support of the Cubs lineup on Monday. He may have a 4.50 ERA, but do not be fooled — he has a 3.39 xFIP and 10.13 strikeouts per nine innings.
Even though Alzolay has a 1-3 record, the Cubs should win in most of his starts based on the strength of their lineup. Additionally, Chicago’s bullpen has done well this season as they collectively have a 3.98 xFIP.
The Cubs should beat the Nationals on Monday night. Both teams may have losing records, but the Cubs are clearly the better team. With the Cubbies having an edge in the starting pitching matchup, I like them even as heavy favorites.
The Nationals as a team need to have one of their strong pitchers on the mound to win. Lester is not one of those pitchers. I grabbed the Cubs moneyline at -148, and I would bet them up to -150
Pick: Cubs Moneyline (-150)