The Washington Nationals are a weird bunch when it comes to the top teams in baseball. This is a team with two stud pitchers and a nasty lineup of powerful bats, yet they routinely face plant in would-be enviable positions. Take last night for instance; the Nats had the rival Marlins in their own park with Chris O’Grady on the mound, yet they barely took care of business in a 3-2 win.
A win is a win, but the Nats were even worse in a similar spot last week when they battle Miami at Marlins Park. The same guy they’re facing tonight – Vance Worley – pulled a shutout gem out of nowhere in a 7-0 win. Does that mean we run for the hills and leave the Nats to someone else on today’s MLB betting slate?
For some, maybe. However, there remains plenty of logic in backing the Nats in this spot and with the value associated with Washington, there might not be a better play available today:
Miami Marlins (+128) @ Washington Nationals (-148) Total: 10
Vance Worley (1-2, 5.31 ERA) vs. A.J. Cole (1-1, 4.91 ERA)
While we do get some value with the Nats even at -148, that won’t be the play. Instead, we’re going into this one looking for Washington’s stout 30-22 home record to stay true, for the pitching to revert to it’s actual form and for the better offense to show up and nab the win. That has us looking to Washington’s solid -1.5 Run Line (+135) at Bovada.
So, how do we get there? It’s pretty simple, really. Vance Worley just isn’t that good.
The 29-year old righty survived at home in his last start against these Nats, but he didn’t do it with a good K rate (3 whiffs) and he needed an insane 15 ground balls to make it happen. Give the guy credit; he didn’t give up a single run – let alone a long ball – in a two-hit gem and he also avoided walking anyone. But he got away with contact and he’s now taking this show onto the road a week after shutting this team down.
That’s usually not a story that ends well for the pitcher. When you factor in Worley’s 5.73 road ERA, poor K rate and Washington’s power, this is especially not a great spot to bank on Worley dealing a career performance for the second game in a row.
It’s not impossible to imagine Worley getting by enough to keep this game relatively close, or inducing enough soft contact that the Nats don’t go completely nuts. But it wouldn’t take much for the latter to happen, would it? Washington sports the 3rd best batting average in the majors when facing right-handed hurlers, while their power (3rd in HR, as well) isn’t anything to scoff at, either.
There is a certain amount of pride elite offenses carry into home games and that rings especially true when they get a second crack at pedestrian arms – and even more so after they’ve allowed them to embarrass them.
The Nats got embarrassed by Worley last time. Now they’re at home, they’ve got a nice two-game winning streak rolling and they don’t want to slip up in winnable spots in the event the Chicago Cubs see a surge and move past them in the standings. Instead, I expect the Nats to be focused and expose Worley for the average arm he truly is. That should be good for a win and then some – which should be enough to land us the real value bet in this matchup.