MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Padres vs. Nationals: How to Bet Max Scherzer in Washington (Sunday, July 18)

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Padres vs. Nationals: How to Bet Max Scherzer in Washington (Sunday, July 18) article feature image
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Dustin Bradford/Getty Images. Pictured: Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer.

  • The Washington Nationals host the San Diego Padres in Sunday's Major League Baseball action.
  • Max Scherzer will take the mound for the Nationals, who are looking to close the series with a win.
  • Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the game below and explains why he likes Washington to get off to a fast start in this meeting.

Padres vs. Nationals Odds

Padres Odds -110
Nationals Odds -110
Over/Under 8
Time 3:35 p.m. ET
TV TBS
Odds as of Sunday morning via DraftKings.

There have already been 44 runs scored in the first 14 full innings of the series between Washington and San Diego. The Padres, whose bats erupted in Friday’s  24-8 victory, led 8-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning Saturday before the game was suspended due to a shooting situation outside Nationals Park.

The last 3.5 innings of that game will be played prior to Sunday’s contest, which makes the second meeting difficult to handicap given the potential rest and bullpen usage.

The pitching should be much improved from the first two games, though, with Nationals ace Max Scherzer facing off against Padres’ right-hander Joe Musgrove.

Even though San Diego’s offense has crushed the ball since the return from the All-Star break, facing Scherzer is a good spot to sell high on the visitor.

Musgrove Looking to Find Earlier Solid Form

Musgrove has switched up his pitches a bit this season, relying more on the slider and less on the fastball than in years past. Earlier this season, Musgrove was one of the National League’s best starters and even threw a no-hitter.

In recent weeks, hitters have started to catch on to him and have been making more solid contact. His xwOBA against has risen to below league average across the last 50 and 100 batters he’s faced.

Musgrove’s FIP is a half run higher than his ERA and his xERA is similarly in the mid 3s as well. That’s not bad, but he hasn’t been at the level he’s being lined at in this road game facing Scherzer.

Musgrove’s numbers away from home are also really impressive at the surface level, but .189 BABIP allowed suggest he’s also benefited strongly from good fortune. He’s getting barreled up more in 2021 than in years past, and in a low-scoring environment like this matchup might be, he’s the more likely pitcher to get taken deep.

Betting against San Diego’s offense after 32 runs in 14 innings probably isn’t advised, but its lineup is much better against left-handed pitching and it hasn’t seen a pitcher close to Scherzer all weekend.

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Veteran Ace Scherzer Continues to Dominate

Despite being 37 years old, where the wear and tear of a lengthy career can catch up to a pitcher, Scherzer has been as good as ever. The veteran star’s .188 xBA allowed, a career-high K rate and a 2.96 xERA have been stellar.

Scherzer saw this San Diego lineup right before the All-Star break and did get roughed up a bit, which included giving up a grand slam to one of its relievers.

The Padres have fared much better against left-handed pitching than righties thus far this year. Scherzer has the lowest WHIP in his career as well, so despite some potential regression based on his BABIP allowed, he isn’t allowing much hard contact or giving free passes.

At the plate, Washington’s lineup isn’t at full strength, but Juan Soto is about to take off. The right fielder is poised to have a huge second half based on his batted ball data, xSLG and xwOBA.

Soto homered twice Friday in a blowout loss and he’ll get to face right-handed pitching again in this spot. The Nationals are eighth lowest in strikeout rate against right-handed pitching, so they should put the ball in play and produce difficult situations for Musgrove to pitch out of in this game.

Padres-Nationals Pick

Due to the uncertainty of bullpen usage in the game that needs to be completed, I’m staying away from the second half of this series finale.

Both bullpens have been used heavily so far and when that’s the case, I look only at the starters. Despite San Diego’s red-hot start to the second half,  Washington is undervalued in the first five innings of the second game.

San Diego could look to rotate its lineup a bit if it wins the first game, as it has to travel for a series beginning Monday in Atlanta. A weaker lineup could help Scherzer navigate one of the NL’s best in this meeting.

Pick: Washington F5 ML (-125 or better)

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