Sunday Night Baseball Betting Guide: Can Red-Hot Nationals Close Divisional Gap vs. Braves?
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Juan Soto and Sean Doolittle
Sunday Night Baseball Betting Odds: Nationals at Braves
- Nationals odds: +135
- Braves odds: -145
- Over/Under: 11
- Probable starters: Joe Ross vs. Kevin Gausman
- First pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET on ESPN
>> All odds as of 12 p.m. ET. Download the free Action Network App to get real-time MLB odds and track your bets.
The surging Nats will try to take a four-game series from the NL East-leading Braves on Sunday night. A win would get them within 4.5 games of first place in the division and, more importantly, just three games back in the loss column.
A 3-1 series win in Atlanta would go a long way in the division race, especially considering the Nats didn’t have ace Max Scherzer going in the four-game set.
By Sean Zerillo
Both starting pitchers will return from the minor leagues on Sunday night, with Gausman coming off the injured list following a case of plantar fasciitis, while Ross was working through mechanical issues in Triple-A after posting an 11.05 ERA out of the Nationals bullpen.
I chose to display career numbers instead of 2019 numbers in the chart above, as these two enigmatic righties have essentially evened out performance-wise if you take the long view. That being said, Gausman has thrown 885.2 MLB innings, while Ross has only thrown 286.
Each performed well during their recent minor league stints — Ross harnessed his command (32 K, 8 BB in 40 IP), while Gausman (19 K, 2 BB in 18 IP) appreciated having the time to reset his mind, shorten his stride, and focus on getting on top of his fastball.
His ERA has been inflated by a .339 BABIP (career .312) and a 57.6% strand rate (career 74.2%) and if anything I think that this is the best version of Kevin Gausman that we have seen.
Joe Ross is a tougher case. He’s just now reached the two year mark following Tommy John surgery, and I’m hesitant to hold too much of his late 2018 or early 2019 performances against him since it looks like he’s rounding into form.
Similar to his brother, Tyson, Joe relies on his slider as an out-pitch. When it’s clicking, he can carve through a lineup, but he does struggle with lefties. Ross owns a career .283 wOBA against right-handed batters, but a .373 wOBA against lefties.
He’s going to need to further refine his changeup in order to stay in a major-league rotation.
How hot are the Nats? Well, they’ve been tied or ahead in the 7th inning or later in 26 straight games. Insanity.
Washington is 19-7 over that stretch — a record that could be even better with a superior bullpen. Their last starter to lose a game was Stephen Strasburg….on JUNE 15!
While their relievers have performed a little better of late, the pen remains the Nationals’ biggest weakness. Only the Orioles have a higher ERA than Washington’s — which sits at 5.86 for the season. In comparison, their starters ERA is 3.52. That’s an enormous disparity.
The Braves pen has significantly better splits but it’s not a group I believe in overall — and you’ve started to see some cracks of late. While Atlanta sports the second-best pen ERA in the NL at 3.94, they’ve been running well all season long. This is still a group that ranks 22nd in baseball in K/BB (worse than Washington). I expect to see serious regression overall in the near future.
We can realistically expect to see a ton of both pens tonight with Joe Ross and Kevin Gausman on the mound. That could mean guys like Matt Grace and Josh Tomlin get some run in the middle innings. That would certainly favor over backers.
You also have a few guys on the Nats that might not be available after extended work the past two nights, specifically Wander Suero and Fernando Rodney.
Behind home plate will be Rob Drake, who has a lifetime under record of 219-203. He has been net -0.37 units to an under bettor lifetime.
Although Drake has been neutral at 51.9% in his career, the past two seasons have been 21-12-2 to the under.
Staff Favorite Bets
Wilson: Braves -145. The Braves have better advanced splits against right handers than the Nationals. Some of the stats have a large gap including wRC+, wOBA, ISO and HR:FB ratio. I will cautiously be supporting Kevin Gausman at this price, who struck out 10 at Triple-A Gwinnett in a rehab start earlier this week.
Zerillo: Under 11. I projected this total for 9.7 runs, and have been happy to see the juice on the number move towards the under, despite the fact that 60% of the cash and tickets are backing the over.
Stuckey: Over 11. Extremely high number but with two-plus offenses and two questionable starters, this could get ugly early and in the middle innings with a number of potential subpar relievers taking the bump.
Trends to Know
Did You Know? Kevin Gausman starts for the Braves at home against the Nationals on Sunday Night Baseball. Gausman is currently having his worst season of his career with an ERA of 6.21 in 2019.
Since 2009, only one home starter on Sunday Night Baseball has had an ERA of 6.00 or higher with at least 50 innings pitched prior to Gausman, that was Jake Peavy for the Giants in 2016. San Francisco beat the Dodgers 2-1. — Evan Abrams
Since 2014, there have been eight Sunday Night Baseball games with an over/under of 10 or higher. The over is 7-1 in those 8 games, going over the total by 2.6 runs per game. Since 2016, these games are 6-0 to the over, going over the total by 3.3 runs per game. — Abrams
The Braves-Nationals total opened 11 and has moved to 11.5. Part of the movement can be explained by the success the hitters have had against the starting pitchers. Current Washington hitters are 33-for-100 (.333) off Gausman with three homers while current Braves hitters are 19-for-57 (.333) against Ross. — John Ewing