MLB Odds & Picks for Nationals vs. Dodgers: How To Back Washington vs. Walker Buehler (Friday, April 9)

Kyusung Gong/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Walker Buehler.

Nationals vs. Dodgers Odds

Nationals Odds +225
Dodgers Odds -285
Over/Under 8.5
Time Friday, 4:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Thursday and via PointsBet

Friday afternoon’s game between the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers appears to be a lopsided matchup at first glance. The Dodgers are the defending World Series champion with Walker Buehler on the mound, and the Nationals are a .500 level team.

However, if you look at the game closely enough, Washington has a plausible chance of winning.

The Dodgers are relying on a strong effort from Buehler who is not expected to pitch deep into the game. The Nationals have a lineup with a few dangerous hitters and should make the game interesting.

My model likes the Nationals +280 moneyline, but it also says there is more value elsewhere on Washington.

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Washington Nationals

There are two reasons why Washington is a large underdog on Friday. One is that the Dodgers are always favored, and the other is because Joe Ross is on the mound for the Nats.

Last season Ross opted out due to COVID-19. This season he is back, and no one is sure what to expect.

In 2019, Ross was a cross between a long reliever and starter, and he had a 4-4 record with a 5.48 ERA and a 5.09 xFIP.

As a starter, Ross regularly pitched between five and six innings. I expect Ross to pitch for five innings and to allow only two or three runs against a potent Dodgers lineup. He may not be Washington’s best pitcher, but Los Angeles is not a lock to win by a large margin just because he is pitching.

While the Nationals’ lineup is hurt by the absences of first baseman Josh Bell and left fielder Kyle Schwarber due to COVID-19 protocols, they have a couple weapons of their own on the roster. Juan Soto could plausibly hit 40 home runs and have a batting average over .300 and on-base percentage over .400. He will be boosted by Trea Turner, who broke out at the plate in 2020.

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Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have the best lineup in MLB, having led the league in runs scored as they averaged 5.77 runs per game and are averaging 6.29 runs so far this season. The lineup is the main reason that Los Angeles is always favored and that there is a +2.5 run line available on the Nationals for Friday’s game.

Against the Rockies in their first series of the season, the Dodgers won only one game by three runs or more despite taking three out of four at Coors Field against one of the worst teams in baseball. During all four games, a Rockies +2.5 run line was available at -110 odds or better.

Buehler should have an impressively low ERA this season, but he has a poor track record of pitching deep into starts. Last year, he averaged fewer than 4 2/3 innings per start. Buehler went six in his 2021 debut, but I believe that is the exception to the norm. If Washington can force Buehler out of the game earlier than that, it has a plausible chance to win this game, or at least keep it close.

Nationals-Dodgers Pick

On PointsBet, the Nationals +2.5 run line is -121, which makes sense given they are heavy underdogs. The Dodgers are certainly the best team in baseball, but the Nats are not a pushover.

Ross is not awful, just mediocre, and bats like Turner in Soto have the potential to do damage against Buehler.

Pick: Washington Nationals +2.5 Run Line -121 (play up to -130)

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