Orioles vs. Nationals Odds, Preview, Prediction: Returning Stephen Strasburg Starts as Big Favorite (Friday, May 21)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images. Pictured: Stephen Strasburg
- The Orioles and Nationals open the Beltway Series on Friday night in D.C.
- Washington gets 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg back after a length injury.
- Who should you back in this one? Kevin Davis breaks it down and makes his pick below.
Orioles vs. Nationals Odds
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This weekend in an interleague series, the Washington Nationals are hosting the Baltimore Orioles. Both teams are in last place in their division, and both are from the same part of the country. However, both teams are quite different from each other.
Washington, despite its losing record, has the ability to be a quality team with a decent lineup and a few strong starting pitchers. Baltimore is one of the worst teams in the league and has a weak lineup, and unpredictable starting pitchers.
On Friday night, the Nationals are relying on Stephen Strasburg, who in the past has been one of the better pitchers in the league. However, due to injuries Strasburg has only made four starts over the last two years. The question for Friday’s game is if Strasburg will return to his 2019 form.
Rebuilding Orioles Have Some Solid Performers
As a rebuilding team, the Baltimore Orioles unsurprisingly have a weak lineup. That is why it is not a surprise that the Orioles lineup is averaging only 3.91 runs per game, which is the seventh-worst in the league. With Baltimore playing at a National League stadium, their pitcher, Jorge López, must hit, so their run production should decrease even more. However, why my model believes that the Orioles' lineup should improve on what we've seen out of it so far, and should produce 3.96 runs per game in a neutral stadium against neutral pitching.
Because they have a lineup that was viewed as poor coming into the season, the threshold for success is much lower for the Orioles than many other teams. Based on their preseason projections, several Orioles such as Cedric Mullins and Freddy Galvis are having better years than projected. Additionally, Trey Mancini — their best offensive player — is having another strong season.
Complimenting the Orioles lineup is López, who is having a much better season than his stats indicate. While López has a 6.35 ERA, he also has an xFIP more than two runs lower at of 4.17. López should rebound as he has been hit by bad luck this season.
The Big Question Is About Strasburg
Like the Orioles, the Nationals have a poor performing lineup as well. The Nats' lineup averages 3.85 runs per game, which is the sixth-lowest in the league. Outside of Juan Soto and Trea Turner, the Washington lineup is relatively unnoteworthy. Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber have been strong players in the past, but this season are having below-average offensive years.
For the Nats to win games this season, they must rely on their starting pitching. Some of their starting pitchers are mediocre like Joe Ross and Erick Fedde, and other starting pitchers like Max Scherzer are among the best in the league. Then there's Strasburg.
A former No. 1 overall draft pick, Strasburg has a 112-60 career record and a 3.21 career ERA. However, over the last two years Strasburg has only made four starts due to injuries. Strasburg should rebound, but whether or not he can regain the form he held when he led the Nationals to the World Series in 2019 is a legitimate question.
The Washington Nationals are a better team than the Baltimore Orioles, but they should not be -220 favorites.
The rationale for Washington being a heavy favorite is because of the edge they have in the starting pitching matchup. However, Strasburg based on his small sample size of recent starts is unpredictable. He could either pitch like Gerrit Cole or Jacob deGrom, or he could get bombed in the first three innings and pulled.
In the event of Strasburg potentially having a bad start, I like the Orioles as +184 money line underdogs and I would bet them up to +165.
Pick: Baltimore Orioles Moneyline +184 (FanDuel) would play up to +165