Why to fade Washington’s pitching staff, plus other best bets for Monday

Do you miss pitchers hitting? Over the years, whenever the idea of MLB bringing the designated hitter to the National League was brought up, I heard plenty of hemming and hawing about it. National League fans complained that it would remove strategy from the game and blah, blah, blah. You know, all the usual things you hear whenever anybody brings up a proposed change to a sport.

I haven’t heard much complaining about the universal DH through the first weekend of the season. There weren’t any cries for the glory days of watching pitchers strike out and kill rallies or the majesty of the double-switch. It’s almost as if having an extra person in your lineup capable of hitting a baseball makes the game more entertaining. Who knew? Besides people who have watched American League baseball for the last 50 years.

Well, we don’t have any basketball or hockey to watch tonight, but that’s fine, there’s plenty of baseball to bet.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

The Hot Ticket

Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

  • Key Trend: The Braves averaged 5.32 runs per game against Washington last season
  • The Pick: Braves Over 5.5 runs (+100)

We’re still very early in the season, but one thing I took away from the first weekend of action is that I’ll be looking to fade the Washington pitching staff as often as humanly possible. The Nats allowed 17 runs in their first three games against the Mets before winning 4-2 yesterday. Now they’re hitting the road to face an Atlanta team that crushed them last year.

Not only did the Braves average 5.32 runs per game against the Nats, but they went 14-5 against them. Tonight the Nats send Josh Rogers to the mound. He’s only made nine career MLB starts and has 61.2 innings to his name, but he wasn’t terrible for the Nats last season in six starts, posting an ERA of 3.28. The problem Rogers faces is that ERA was misleading, as he had an xFIP of 6.00 thanks to a strikeout rate of only 14.6% and a walk rate of 9.3%. He also allowed a lot of flyballs that turned into home runs.

While the Braves didn’t light the Reds up in their opening series, they still boast a lineup full of guys who can hit the ball hard, and I expect them to do so tonight. Plus, the Nats bullpen didn’t show me many reasons to be confident about it during the series against the Mets, so even after Rogers leaves the game, the Braves offense will continue having plenty of chances.

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model doesn’t love anything about tonight’s game, but both John Bollman and Matt Severance have put in moneyline plays, and they’re on the same side.

💰 The Picks



Marlins at Angels, 9:38 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds:

Los Angeles Angels

The Pick: Angels (-140) — This strikes me as some nice value on the Angels. Los Angeles is only 1-3 after opening the season against the Astros, but it had a lot more to do with the Astros than the Angels. Tonight the Angels will face Miami’s Elieser Hernandez, and while most of his peripherals are fine, he allows a lot of hard, flyball contact. Those tendencies could get him in some trouble against an offense that has Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon at the top.

The Angels will start Michael Lorenzen but don’t expect him to last long. He has started only 26 games in his seven-year career, and he’ll likely serve more as an opener. Considering how rough things have been for the Angels’ bullpen so far, we shouldn’t get too excited about the prospect of that unit having to cover six innings or more. Still, as I said, those numbers say more about the Houston offense than the Angels bullpen.

Key Trend: The Marlins are 14-46 in their last 60 games as a road dog.

Padres at Giants, 9:45 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds:

Under 8.5

The Pick: Under 8.5 (-120) — It’s not officially baseball season until I’m betting a late-night under at Oracle Park. It’s no secret that the park is pitcher-friendly, and it only becomes more so after the sun goes down and that cold air starts coming in off the bay, killing anything hit into the air. It’s so effective that I’m not even worried that the Padres are starting Nick Martinez, who hasn’t appeared in an MLB game since 2017 with the Rangers.

You could be pitching in this game, and I’d still lean toward the under as long as the total was over eight runs. The Padres offense was effective in its opening series against Arizona, but the Diamondbacks don’t have much of a pitching staff. Things should look a lot different against Alex Wood. While he’s not overpowering, Wood does a great job avoiding contact and keeps the ball on the ground when he does allow it.

Key Trend: The under is 5-2 in San Francisco’s last seven as a home favorite.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Projection Model’s favorite play of the night is in the same Giants/Padres game we’re betting, but it’s not a play on the total.

⚽ Champions League Picks

The second legs of the Champions League quarterfinals will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday, and these are my picks for all four matches. If you’d like a longer explanation behind them, you can read it here.

  • Real Madrid/Chelsea Under 2.5 (-105)
  • Bayern Munich Over 2.5 goals (-115)
  • Atlético Madrid or Draw (+103)
  • Liverpool/Benfica Under 3.5 (-125)


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