Wednesday MLB Odds, Picks & Predictions: Nationals vs. Cubs Betting Preview (May 19)

Wednesday MLB Odds, Picks & Predictions: Nationals vs. Cubs Betting Preview (May 19) article feature image

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images. Pictured: Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer.

  • The Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals play Wednesday evening (7:40 p.m. ET on MLB Network) in the third game of the teams' regular season series.
  • Tonight's game features an intriguing pitching matchup between Max Scherzer and Jake Arrieta, with 12mph winds in the forecast as well.
  • Below, find our MLB betting preview with updated odds, picks and predictions for Cubs vs. Nationals on Wednesday, May 19.

Nationals vs. Cubs Odds

Nationals Odds-160
Cubs Odds+135
Time7:40 p.m. ET
Odds updated Wednesday at 4:40 p.m. ET via BetMGM.

The Chicago Cubs jumped out to a 2-0 series advantage against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday on the backs of a strong 6-3 victory at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs were paced by David Bote and Nico Hoerner, who both had multi-hit games. Bote drove in three of the six runs, which included a two-run home run in the sixth inning. Ian Happ also added a solo home run for the Cubs. Overall, the offense had an impressive 13 hits.

The Nationals were also relatively successful at the plate with nine hits, but failed too often to get the big hit when it counted. They had their opportunities, but finished just 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position. Starlin Castro, Trea Turner and Ryan Zimmerman all drove in runs, with Castro adding a solo home run in the loss.

Can the Cubs make it three wins in a row at home soil or can Nationals ace Max Scherzer shut them down and bring his team back into the series?

Scherzer Continuing to Performing at High Level

With the exception of a couple of rough outings in April, Scherzer has been his usual, dominant self, pitching to a strong 2.98 xFIP and striking out batters at a dominant 11.98 K/9 clip. His batted ball data is also in-line with his last few seasons, so there have been no signs of decline in his age-36 season.

He’ll take on a Cubs team that been around league-average against right-handed pitchers, collectively hitting to a .310 wOBA. Of course, Scherzer is no ordinary right-handed pitcher. While he doesn’t have much history against the Cubs (his last outing against them was in 2019), that should serve as an edge.

Despite Scherzer only pitching five innings in his last outing, he’s gone seven and nine innings in his previous two starts, so there should be no concerns about his longevity. If he does falter, manager Dave Martinez will turn to a bullpen that has been solid thus far, with a 4.18 FIP over 124 innings pitched.

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Struggling Arrieta Taking Mound for Chicago

Arrieta will make his eighth start of the season. He’s struggled to regain the form he had back in 2017, the last season he spent with the organization. To be fair, he’s steadily regressed from those marks over the last few seasons, but has had an especially hard time so far.

Over 37 1/3 innings, Arrieta has compiled a 5.13 FIP, a 41.1 Hard Hit % and allowed 1.69 HR/9 thus far, all well above his career averages. We’ve seen a shift in his pitch selection this season versus last, specifically an increase in fastball usage (58.9% this season versus 52.4% in 2020) and decrease in changeup usage (6.6% this season versus 17.1% in 2020).

The result has been harder hit balls and more home runs that we’ve seen him give up in past seasons.

He'll take on a Nationals team that has been slightly below league average against righties, with a .304 team wOBA in such situations. Luckily for the Cubs, they can turn to a strong bullpen if Arrieta gets in trouble early.

So far, they’ve been one of the better units in baseball, compiling a 3.85 FIP so far and striking out batters at a rate of 11.2 K/9 innings.

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Nationals-Cubs Picks

While the Cubs have jumped out to an impressive 2-0 lead in this series, they’ve yet to face the type of stuff Scherzer will throw . He’s the type of pitcher that can dominate any occasion and will have the added benefit of facing a team that hasn’t seen him since 2019.

On top of all of that, he takes on a Cubs team that has still yet to break out against right-handed pitching this year.

On the other side, Arrieta has yet to find his groove and takes on a strong Nationals lineup with plenty of bats capable of taking advantage of that elevated hard hit rate. I’m betting the Nationals prevail early against Arrieta.

Current weather reports are also showing a 12-mph wind blowing out to left-center field, which should only elevate the risk level for Arrieta.

I’m taking the Nationals for the First Five Innings and also be looking to play the full game line at -150 or less if I can find the number.

Picks: Nationals First Five Innings ML | Nationals ML (-150 or less)

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