Nationals vs Pirates Prediction Today | MLB Odds, Picks for Thursday, September 14
Pictured: CJ Abrams. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Nationals vs. Pirates Odds
Josiah Gray and Mitch Keller have had similar seasons for the Nationals and Pirates. Both have fallen off in the second half, though they'll go head-to-head Thursday.
This month, the Washington Nationals have shown a spark at the plate and should be able to score some runs early. The Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has been the better of the two this season, but the Nationals should be able to score on Keller. As a result, taking the Nationals to go over their team total is the best bet for Nationals vs. Pirates on Thursday.
Gray has a 4.13 ERA against a 5.15 xERA. He has a 9% Barrel Rate, an Average Exit Velocity of 87.4 mph and a 36.2% Hard-Hit Rate. Those aren't jarring numbers, but he also owns a below-average 39% ground-ball rate, a 12% walk rate and a 19.5% strikeout rate. In the second half, he has a 5.88 ERA over 41 1/3 innings.
The Nats have been hitting lately, especially against right-handers. Washington has a 113 wRC+, a .792 OPS, a 9.1% walk rate and a 17.4% strikeout rate in September off of right-handers. In that time, the Nationals have six batters with a xwOBA over .320. In other words, the top of the lineup should feast on the struggling Keller.
GO BRIDGE, CJ ABRAMS pic.twitter.com/ImpcYmBY2f
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 11, 2023
However, Washington's bullpen is atrocious. In September, the Nats' relievers have a 5.11 xFIP with a 15.7% strikeout rate and a 10.2% walk rate. And because Gray has a tendency to walk hitters, it's hard to back the Nationals in this game, even as underdogs.
Keller has a 4.22 ERA against a 4.09 xERA. He has an 8.5% Barrel Rate, an Average Exit Velocity of 87.3 mph and a 34.3% Hard-Hit Rate. In the second half, his numbers have fallen off of a cliff. Since the All-Star break, he has a 6.09 ERA over 57 2/3 innings and has given up six or more earned runs in four starts.
The Pirates have been consistently below average at the dish. They have a 79 wRC+, a .685 OPS, a 7% walk rate and a 21.1% strikeout rate this month off of righties. They have four active hitters with an xwOBA over .330, but that's not enough to bet on them, even if Gray has struggled lately.
In relief, the Pirates own a 4.07 xFIP. If Keller doesn't go deep into this game, Pittsburgh's bullpen will have some trouble in the middle innings, allowing the Nationals to tack on a couple more runs.
Nationals vs. Pirates
Betting Pick & Prediction
The Nationals have a decent lineup, particularly at the top of the order. Additionally, Keller hasn't been the same in the second half and the Pirates have a few holes in middle relief. With that being the case, the Washington's over is in play. Play the Nationals total to 4.5 (-125).