Many Nationals fans that stayed up late to watch Wednesday night’s game were pleading with Washington to “save some for tomorrow”. The Nationals scored 15 runs and jumped all over San Diego starter Chris Paddack in the 15-5 victory. There is a good chance that they will not be scoring 15 runs tonight.
The Nationals will take on Yu Darvish this evening and are a sizable underdog with money pouring in on the Padres. It is an interesting line move because we’ve seen a lot of love for Max Scherzer in recent starts, but the future Hall of Famer is not getting the market love this evening. San Diego is priced in the -150 range at BetUS Sportsbook with a total of 7 at Petco Park in tonight’s spotlight pitching matchup.
The overall offensive numbers for the Nationals seem to be getting better by the day. Washington is up to 11th in wOBA at .319 and sits there with a 99 wRC+, so just one point below league average. Over the last 14 days, though, the Nationals sport the sixth-highest wOBA and a 122 wRC+. They can thank Kyle Schwarber for that, as he’s been on a torrid pace for about three weeks now.
With a win tonight, the Nationals could climb to .500, which many consider to be the first step in making a push up the standings. Washington has been something of a hot commodity in the division futures markets as well with this recent impressive run and with a Mets team that looks rather weak atop the division.
There are some injuries in the bullpen that are a major concern for Washington, but it is a nice luxury to have a guy like Max Scherzer that is plenty capable of working deep into games. Scherzer will make his 17th start tonight and has a 2.10 ERA with a 3.10 FIP in his 94.1 innings of work.
Scherzer allowed four runs in his first start of the season against the Braves, which was pushed back a few days due to COVID cases with the Nationals. He allowed seven runs over five innings against the Blue Jays on April 27. Since that start, Scherzer has only allowed 12 runs in 11 starts over 64.1 innings of work. That includes a quick stint on the IL for a groin problem.
Since returning, Scherzer has allowed three runs on 11 hits in 17 innings with 23 strikeouts against six walks.
San Diego Padres
The Padres offense is 12th in wOBA, so just one spot behind Washington, but the park factor adjustments in the wRC+ department have the Friars with a 102 mark in that department. That puts them slightly above league average on the offensive side, which is actually a bit disappointing given all of the contact quality we’ve seen from San Diego this season.
San Diego has ranked near the top of the league in Hard Hit% most of the season. They haven’t been able to maximize it completely to this point, but it does appear that things are improving for the better. San Diego is second in wOBA and tied for second in wRC+ over the last 14 days offensively with a lot more power and a big decrease in K%.
Yu Darvish is a guy under the microscope right now because of his spin rates and the substance crackdown. Darvish has seen big spikes in his spin rates over the last three seasons. He has a 2.65 ERA with a 3.20 FIP for the season, but has a 3.57 ERA with a 3.66 FIP in his last six starts. Those are still very good numbers, but Darvish has allowed four runs twice in starts, something we didn’t see prior to the crackdown with the exception of Opening Day.
Darvish has allowed five runs once and four runs three times, with three of those four starts on the road, including one against Houston and one in Colorado. The spin rate narrative may be a little bit overblown for him and it certainly hasn’t bothered bettors, who are siding up with the Padres in tonight’s game.
Nationals vs. Padres Free Pick
It is always such an interesting handicap when elite starting pitchers go head-to-head. We did see an opening total of 6.5 in this game and now we’re up to 7 in the market. I disagree with the move up on the total. While both offenses have been doing better of late, great pitching can trump great hitting and we have two great pitchers in this one.
Pick: Under 7