The Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals are scheduled to meet for second in a three-game series. The Nationals got off to a solid start last night, as they received a big performance from their pitching staff. Erick Fedde set the tone on the hill for the Nationals. Fedde allowed 2 hits and 1 earned run through 4.2 innings of work. It’s a positive sign for a guy who was just okay last season. He couldn’t pick up the win, but his no-decision helped keep the Nationals in a position to get the win. Conversely, John Gant allowed 6 hits and 3 earned runs in 5 innings for the Cardinals.
It was only the second win for the Nationals this season. They head into Tuesday with a record of 2-5 to end a five-game losing skid for the Nationals. The Nationals are dealing with Covid, as several players have been listed on the Covid list, but are getting healthier now. Josh Bell made his debut with the Nationals last night. The former Pirate was off the Opening Day lineup because of going on the Covid list. Bell was effective last night, as he went 1-for-3 with 2 walks and 2 runs. He’s not going to put the Nationals over the top into a contender, but Bell is a solid enough bat.
The Cardinals are off to a mediocre 5-5 start to the 2021 campaign. It’s not good enough for a team that acquired Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt. Those two back-to-back in the lineup should be scaring pitchers, but games aren’t won on paper. Arenado and Goldschmidt put up a donut last night with a combined 0-for-8 hitting at the plate. Goldschmidt is going into his third season with the Cardinals, while Arenado is a newcomer after being traded by the Colorado Rockies in February. Arenado wanted a chance of scenery and he got his wish, going from an average team to another average team.
The Rockets aren’t bad, nor are the Cardinals bad. When it comes to the Cards, they’ve made it known that they want to win now. They wouldn’t have traded for Arenado if that were the case. If the Cards are out of the picture at the trade deadline, it will be interesting to see what they do. Note that Arenado has a provision in his contract that he can opt out of his contract following the 2021 season if he wants.
The Cardinals will look for Jack Flaherty to outduel Stephen Strasburg, who got off to a fast start in his season opener. Flaherty has already pitched in two games, way up and way down, while Strasburg was flying against the Atlanta Braves in his 2021 debut. If the Nationals are going to be a surprising contender this year, it’s imperative that Strasburg catches fire. Head below for our free Nationals vs. Cardinals pick on April 13, 2021.
Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals MLB Betting Odds:
Nationals vs. Cardinals Prediction:
The Nationals need much more than just Stephen Strasburg if they’re going to put a dent in the NL East. They are currently dead last in fifth and three games behind the Philadelphia Phillies. No one has been playing exceptionally well in the division, and the Nationals are only seven games into the season. Having said that, the Nationals have plenty of holes in their lineup and they are likely going to continue to lag behind the top teams in the division.
The Nationals are 26th in the majors with 3.54 runs scored per 9 innings. They have no deep power and that’s contributed to their struggles offensively. The Nationals are hitting just 0.8 home runs per game for 28th in the majors. They need to get going with the deep ball, and the Nationals are hoping that Josh Bell is the answer to their woes. Bell hit 37 home runs and batting .277 in his last full season with the Pirates in 2019.
It has been a tale of two starts for Jack Flaherty this season. He didn’t look focused in the least to open the year, as the Cincinnati Reds raked against him with 6 hits and 6 earned runs in 4.1 innings of work. That was a game to forget for the 25-year-old who is looking to duplicate his form from 2017 and 2018. Flaherty posted an ERA of 3.34 and then a career-high of 2.75 the following season. He tailed off in the shortened season, with a 4.91 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.
It’s not the most accurate assessment to judge a pitcher on a full season versus the 60-game schedule, though. Following the poor performance against the Reds, Flaherty came back in much better form with a standout showing against the Marlins. Flaherty allowed just 1 hit and no runs through 6 innings of work. That was what he was looking for, and against another weak offense Tuesday, Flaherty should be able to have another solid outing.
He might have to be with Strasburg on the bump for the Nats. Strasburg was untouchable in his debut this season, with 1 hit and no runs allowed against the Braves. Can he stay healthy this season? It’s a big ask from Strasburg who appeared in only two games last year. The Nationals are hitting just .194 against Flaherty in 71 at-bats, so I think the Cards can keep this one close with their hurler. I like a low-scoring final score, with the UNDER worth some consideration.