MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions | Pirates vs Nationals Doubleheader Betting Preview
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured: Andrew McCutchen.
- After a postponement on Friday, the Pirates and Nationals play a doubleheader on Saturday, April 29.
- The Pirates took the first game and are going for a sweep of Saturday's doubleheader.
- Continue reading for Charlie Disturco's betting picks for Pirates vs. Nationals.
Pirates vs. Nationals Game 2 Odds
-102 / -120
-102 / -120
The Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals square off in a doubleheader on Saturday after their Friday matchup was canceled due to inclement weather.
The Pirates rep the National League’s best record and have won 10 of their last 11 after winning the first game on Saturday. They hand the ball to Vince Velasquez as they go for the twin-bill sweep. The Nationals have struggled out of the gate, but are coming off a series win against the New York Mets. Chad Kuhl gets the nod in Game 2.
Here’s how to bet the two games, including a couple of player prop picks to keep an eye on:
There’s a lot to love when it comes to fading Hill and Saturday is the perfect time to do so.
The veteran southpaw enters with 17 innings of four-run (three earned) ball in his past three starts. His ERA has dropped to 4.85, but it’s come with a heavy dose of overperforming expectations. Hill has a 6.92 xERA and a 6.20 FIP. He’s posted an unsustainable 84.6 LOB% — a number surely to regress to his career average of 74.5 — and ranks in the bottom 15% of all pitchers in xBA, xSLG, barrel rate and whiff rate.
That barrel rate has ballooned to 14.8%, over 5.5 points worse than his previous low. Opponents are consistently making hard contact, the success just hasn’t followed suit. His fastball is crushed and his cutter has been largely ineffective. The curveball has been his saving grace (.231 BAA), but his xBA on that pitch sits around .275.
I don’t have much faith in the veteran. He rarely generates chases, his command has been wonky and he can’t overpower hitters. While he may be able to take advantage of a weak Nationals lineup, there are many ways to fade the lefty, which I’ll dive into later.
Even with Hill’s eventual expected struggles, nothing should be taken away from the Pirates’ hot start to the season. They’re ninth in wRC+ and sixth in wOBA. They have the third-most runs scored in the NL and that’s come without Oneil Cruz.
Bryan Reynolds has continued his tear at the plate and is hitting above .301 with a .878 OPS. The addition of veterans Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Santana have also provided a much-needed boost in the middle of the lineup. The two are having excellent starts to the season after a couple of down years prior.
The bullpen has been relatively strong, too. The Pirates are 11th in xFIP and David Bednar has given up just one run in 12 innings of work. Expectations were not high for Pittsburgh, but the Pirates have done nothing but surprise in the first month of the season.
As for Velasquez in Game 2, the right-hander has flashed a side of him that we saw in spurts during his early-Phillies days. In his past three starts, he’s given up just three runs in 19 innings. He’s struck out six or more in all three and has given up just one home run. His xBA is a career best (.210) as is his hard-hit% (31.1).
Velasquez has gotten rid of his curveball (.275 xBA in 2022) and is now a three-pitch pitcher. His slider has been extremely effective (.125 xBA in 2023) and he’s generated whiffs on over a third of all pitches. It’s been his go-to putaway pitch, throwing it 41.5% of the time.
Game 1 features what could very well turn into a slugfest between offenses as the Nationals turn to Patrick Corbin.
One of the many pitchers Action Network’s baseball group has faded throughout the past year, Corbin has once again been horrific. Opponents have a .333 xBA against the left-hander — which is way worse than 2022’s career-worst of .304 — and a 6.66 xERA.
The 33-year-old’s strikeout numbers have dipped once again and while his barrel rate has improved slightly, his hard-hit rate remains in the 40s. Nothing has changed in his arsenal, either. His sinker has a .421 BAA and his four-seam has been even worse (.500). His saving grace has been the slider, which he throws nearly 40% of the time.
Corbin does enter off back-to-back quality starts, but I expect that to be a short-lived ‘turnaround’. The Pirates offense has been dominant in April and are actually top 5 in wRC+, wOBA and walk rate against left-handed pitching.
Whenever Corbin is on the mound, it’s always a fun time finding ways to fade the southpaw.
The Nationals offense has struggled this season. They’re 25th in wRC+, 24th in wOBA and last in ISO. The positive note is they’re No. 1 in strikeout rate and over the past couple weeks have trended toward the top-20 mark across the hitting metrics.
Like the rest of the team, the bullpen has also struggled. They’re 23rd in xFIP and 28th in K%. Kyle Finnegan has five saves, but a 7.00 ERA. As expected, the Nationals have struggled across the board as they trudge on in their rebuild.
In Game 2, Kuhl takes the mound. And he may arguably be worse than Corbin — a hard feat.
Kuhl has given up a home run in all four games this season and has issued nearly as many walks (12) as strikeouts (14). He ranks in the bottom 10% of all pitchers in barrel rate and xSLG (.614). His hard-hit rate is above 50% and his LOB% (68) and HR/FB% (15.6) is near his mean.
In fact, his BABIP (.278) is as low as it’s been since 2020 — COVID year. There’s a lot of concerns for Kuhl, who doesn’t generate chases, struggles with strikeouts and is often battered by opponents. He should continue to struggle so long as he remains a starting pitcher in MLB.
Pirates vs. Nationals Betting Pick
I broke down on Friday’s Payoff Pitch podcast how to attack Hill in the player prop market. The left-hander is due for regression and while the Nationals aren’t a heavy-hitting offense, they are more than capable of scratching across some runs. The same could be said for Corbin — who has become a consistent fade for us at Action Network.
I like the over of 9 runs in this matchup. Both pitchers carry xERAs of 6.67 or higher and have extremely concerning advanced metrics. The Pirates offense is much better than the Nationals, but I’m cautious when backing both Hill or Corbin on the moneyline. This is a game that could see the over hitting before the fifth inning ends.
If you would rather stay away from the total altogether, here’s a few props I would target in Game 1:
Lane Thomas o1.5 TBs: Thomas bats near the top of the order and crushes left-handed pitching. This season, he is hitting .423 with a 173 wRC+ against southpaws.
Joey Meneses: o1.5 TBs: Meneses is finally finding his stride after a slow start. Hitting in the middle of the order, Meneses has gone over 1.5 total bases in four of his past six games. While his numbers haven’t been terrific this year against southpaws, last season he hit .366 with a .676 slugging percentage and extra-base hits on 12 of 26 hits.
Ke’Bryan Hayes o1.5 TBs: Hayes has struggled to begin the season, but found consistent success against southpaws last year. Hayes finished with a slash line of .270/.343/.414 and 31.7% of his hits went for extra bases. He has gone over 1.5 TBs in three of his past four and is 3-for-10 in his career against Corbin. He also hits atop the order, so Hayes should see four or five at-bats Saturday.
Rodolfo Castro o1.5 TBs: This isn’t for the faint of heart, but Rodolfo Castro has quietly been the best Pirate against left-handed pitching this season. He has a 224 wRC+ and is slashing .370/.471/.778 in 34 plate appearances. Half of his hits have gone for extra bases. This isn’t a batter I would back against right-handed pitching, but he packs a punch against southpaws.
I would only sprinkle on these props, or pick two to split a unit on. All should be in (+) money, though their lines aren’t currently available.
As for Game 2, there is no line out. But I would back the Pirates and Velasquez up to (-150). I am not worried about Kuhl and think the Pirates will hit him hard — probably a lot harder than Corbin. Velasquez has shown a lot of promise this year and I think it’s legit as his upward usage in sliders and the axing of the curveball gives me the confidence to back the right-hander against the lowly Nationals.
Pick: Game 1: Over 9 | Game 2: Pirates ML |
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