Giants vs. Nationals Odds
|Over/Under||7.5 (-115 / -105)|
|Time||7:05 p.m. ET|
The San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals begin a four-game series on Thursday night at Nationals Park.
The Giants boast a +74 run differential and brandish the best record in baseball at 38-23. Meanwhile, the Nationals (25-33) remain in fourth place in the NL East, which is the worst division in baseball. Washington also reports a -31 run differential, which is the fourth-worst in the National League.
Washington will have a two-time Cy Young Award-winner on the mound when Max Scherzer starts on Thursday night. Still, does that truly warrant the Nationals being -170 favorites in this spot?
San Francisco Giants
With the exception of one disastrous start, Anthony DeSclafani (RHP) has been terrific for the Giants. DeSclafani has a 5-2 record with 3.51 ERA through 12 starts this season.
Furthermore, if you remove the 10-run blowup against the Dodgers on May 23, then DeSclafani reports a 5-1 record and 2.25 ERA over his 11 other starting appearances. That game against the Dodgers is the only instance in which he has allowed more than three runs as a starter.
DeSclafani may not blow you away with his strikeout rate (7.83 K/9). But his ground ball rate is 49.2% — the best mark of his career — and ranks 13th in MLB. His sinker has also been great, allowing a .167 batting average and .216 wOBA to opposing batters.
While the pitching staff is clearly the strength of San Francisco’s roster, don’t sleep on the Giants offense. San Francisco ranks seventh in runs per game, eighth in wOBA and fifth in wRC+ this season.
The Giants are like the “Back to the Future” of baseball teams. It is the year 2021, and somehow their three best hitters include:
- 34-year old Brandon Crawford
- 34-year old Buster Posey
- 35-year old Evan Longoria
Unfortunately, Longoria, Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson are all currently on the injured list. Yet despite those injuries, the Giants continue to get it done, ranking fourth in the league in runs and OPS over the last week.
Max Scherzer (RHP) takes the mound on Thursday evening, having regained his dominant form after a rather un-“Scherzer”-like season last year. He posted a 3.74 ERA in 2020, which was his first season with an ERA over 3.00 since 2014.
Through 12 starts this season, he is 5-4 with 2.22 ERA. If the season ended today, that ERA would be the best of his career — even lower than either of his two Cy Young Award seasons.
Even at 36-years old, “Mad Max” still possesses some of the best swing-and-miss stuff in the league. Scherzer has a 12.16 strikeout rate (K/9), and his 36.1 K% is tied for fourth in the league. Teams are batting just .193 against him this season, and he ranks in the top 10% of MLB in xwOBA and xERA. Scherzer throws a fastball, slider, changeup and cutter, each of which reports a batting average against below .200.
The Nationals have had the same issue for the entire season: They struggle to get base-runners to actually come across home plate. Washington ranks seventh in batting average and 11th in on-base percentage, yet it ranks 26th in the runs per game. Furthermore, the Nationals rank sixth in batting average (.240) with the bases empty, yet rank 23rd in batting average (.235) with runners in scoring position.
Despite Juan Soto’s surprising struggles, Trea Turner has been awesome for the Nats and has basically carried their offense at times. He leads the team in hits, runs, doubles, home runs, RBIs, stolen bases, and just about anything else you can think of.
Giants vs. Nationals Pick
Every Monday, MLB.com releases its weekly power rankings. In this week’s edition, San Francisco came in at No. 5. Somehow the Giants were ranked behind the Padres and Dodgers — the two teams trailing the Giants in the NL West division. How is that possible?
The Giants were predicted to finish third in the division with a preseason win total of 75.5. Yet, we are 61 games into the season, and they are on pace for 100 wins. At this point, it is clear that San Francisco is simply better than people expected, but the team has not received the respect it deserves.
Obviously, the Nationals have the pitching advantage with Scherzer on the mound. But if you are going to give me the team with the best record in baseball at greater than +150 odds, I am going to take them. This season, the Giants are 20-14 (+9.42 units) as an underdog and 7-3 (+6.98 units) as a road underdog.
Scherzer’s numbers are excellent, but DeSclafani has been great as well — and the Giants are 8-4 in games he starts. San Francisco has an excellent bullpen and the better offense right now. I think there is value on the underdog here.
Pick: San Francisco Giants +155 (Play to +150 or better)