Pirates vs. Nationals Odds, Picks, Betting Predictions: Bet the First 5 Moneyline in D.C.
Getty Images. Pictured: JT Brubaker and Jon Lester
- The Pirates and Nationals begin a series on Monday night in the nation's capital.
- JT Brubaker takes the mound for Pittsburgh against Washington's Jon Lester.
- Tanner McGrath previews the matchup and makes his betting pitck below, explaining why he's playing a first five inning moneyline instead of the full game.
Pirates vs. Nationals Odds
|Time||7:05 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Monday and via DraftKings.|
The first game on the docket for Monday’s slate is a barnburner between two cellar-dwellers. Both the Pirates and the Nationals are in last place in their respective divisions.
The Nationals still have some semblance of hope, however, behind some solid pitching and getting healthy in the future. Meanwhile, the Pirates’ season is basically over, and the fans are looking for their young prospects to play well.
In baseball, any team can win on any given night. So, let’s dive into where the value lies in this matchup.
Brubaker Gives Bucs A Chance
The Pirates have the second-worst record in baseball and are probably the worst team in baseball. Most recently, they’ve lost five straight games, seven of their last 10 and are now 14.5 games back in the NL Central division.
While the Pirates’ season is essentially already dead, the Pirates are not completely unwatchable. There are some young Pirate players that make this team worthwhile for Pirates fans.
Take Ke’Bryan Hayes, who has struggled with injuries but has been incredible since he was first called up last season. Since returning to the Pirates on June 3rd, Hayes is hitting .316 with a .929 OPS and five extra-base hits in 38 ABs.
Another young, exciting Pirates player is today’s starter: JT Brubaker.
Brubaker has had a few terrible starts this season, but on the whole has been really good. He has a 3.90 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP through 11 starts and he’s walking just 5.1% of batters faced.
Brubaker relies primarily on his slider, but compliments it with a four-seam fastball and a sinker. His sinker has been the most effective of the three pitches, as he’s produced a -5 run value.
Offense A Problem For Nationals
A home split against the Giants is nothing to scoff at, but the Nationals are still the worst team in the NL East.
It’s primarily because of their offense. They’ve scored the fewest runs per game in the division by a long shot and rank 28th in the stat across MLB (3.76). Moreover, the offense seems to get worse at home, as they rank dead last in home runs per game (3.19).
As it did during their 2019 World Series run, the pitching has kept the Nationals alive. Max Scherzer is having another incredible season and the bullpen ranks above-average in FIP (4.05) and WHIP (1.25). Stephen Strasburg needs to get healthy, as he’s made just five starts this season.
Overall, it’s easy to see how the Nationals are an astounding 41-19-2 to the under this season.
Old man Jon Lester is starting for the Nationals tonight. He certainly isn’t the Lester of past, but he’s providing innings for a team in desperate need of rotation help.
The quality of those innings is up for debate. His 4.20 ERA isn’t horrible, and he’s keeping his exit velocity (87.2 mph), hard-hit percentage (34.7%) barrel rate (5.6%) pretty low. However, he’s also striking out a lot fewer batters (6.28 per nine) while on pace to walk the most of his career (3.72 per nine). He has a high WHIP (1.50), a very low groundball rate (38.5%) and a FIP of 5.00.
He’s also getting lit up on his most-used pitch: the cutter. Lester throws the cutter more than a third of the time and is allowing a .706 SLG on the pitch. But, his changeup has been really good this season, as he’s allowed just a .152 wOBA on the pitch so far.
Brubaker is great and has a lot of promise. However, he’s on a bad stretch. He’s allowed 15 earned runs over his past 16 innings, or four starts in total.
Meanwhile, Lester has allowed just one earned in each of his last three outings. I think he’s in for another solid start today, as the Pirates have been one of the worst teams against left-handed pitching this season. Against southpaws, they’ve posted a season-long OPS of .638 (29th in MLB) and have posted a .553 OPS over the past two weeks (28th in MLB).
The Nationals are 16-5 in their last 21 at home against Pittsburgh, but Lester hasn’t managed to go deep into games this season and both bullpens are questionable.
Therefore, I’m going to back Lester in the first five innings. I bet the Nationals at -121 on DraftKings and am looking to play it at -125 or better.
Pick: Nationals F5 ML (-121 | Play to -125)