NL East Clinching Nationals Play Host to Underdog Braves

Who: Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals

When: Tuesday September 12th, 2017 7:05PM EST

Where: Nationals Park—Washington, DC

Just 2 days ago, a win by the Nationals and a loss by the Marlins ensured that the team from DC was going to the playoffs. Not only that, the victory ensured that the Nationals were going to clinch their division, the NL East. After having struggled to make the post-season the last few years, and just barely limping into the playoffs, the Nationals can relax this time around.

What’s more, the Nationals have exited the playoffs almost as quickly as they entered them the last 3 seasons, losing in the first round each and every time. For many, this year is already looking like it will be a good bit different from year’s prior. With one of the best starting rotations complemented by a high-powered offense, there are few teams East of the Mississippi that can keep up with DC. With that being said, however, the Nationals will by no means have an easy road to the World Series, or even the NLCS. It is imperative that this team not sit back and relax, but rather continue playing the same baseball that has gotten them this far.

As you could have probably guessed, the Braves are not a team that will be making a playoff run this year. At more than 23 games back of the division lead and 14 games out of a Wild Card position, it simply is not in the cards for the Braves this year. Still, Atlanta has been playing decent baseball of late, having won 4 of their last 5, including taking 3 of 4 from the Marlins at home.

Tonight’s game is the first of a 3-game series, so Bovada is offering moneyline odds on which team will win at least 2 of the 3. As you could expect, the Nationals (-350) are about as heavy a favorite as can exist. The Braves (+275), on the other hand, are big underdogs. Though there is very little value in a bet on the Nationals, they are most likely going to win at least 2 games, if not all 3.

Game Overview and Analysis

When the underdog Braves (+153) take the field on Tuesday, they will be sending Julio Teheran (10-11 4.77 ERA) to the mound. Teheran has been a solid pitcher for the Braves all season long, and despite some inconsistencies he has proven himself to be someone with a bright future. While facing off against the Nationals’ powerful offense is never easy, Teheran has had surprising success against the team from DC. In 2 starts against the Braves’ division rivals, Teheran has emerged victorious both times. It has been over 2 months since he last faced the Nationals, so it will be interesting to see how he performs. Signs, however, are pointing towards a positive performance from Teheran, seeing as he has won each of his last 3 starts, taking his ERA back below 5.

If we get a solid performance from Teheran, the Braves’ offense will need to perform well against one of the Natinoals’ many talented pitchers. For me, however, Teheran needs to have another great outing for the Braves to have even a slight chance of winning the series opener.

As for the Nationals (-178), they will be sending Gio Gonzalez (14-6 2.50 ERA) to the mound, and that is something that should be very concerning for the Braves. Gonzalez has won 6 of his last 7 starts, and has given up 2 or fewer runs in each of those games. In fact, 4 of those 6 wins saw Gonzalez shutout his opponents. All things considered, if Gonzalez can maintain his focus despite knowing his side has clinched the division, the Nationals will easily win the series opener.

The same goes for the Nationals’ batters. If they can maintain focus and put on a solid performance, Gio Gonzalez will take care of the rest. Teheran has had the Nationals’ number so far this season, but I think this will be his first loss against the team from DC.

Betting Prediction

If you are looking to take a moneyline wager in this game, I am going to steer you in the direction of the Nationals (-178). Though you might not look at the -178 odds as being particularly great, I think it is good value when you consider just how dominant Gonzalez has been. He, quite simply, has not been giving up runs, and I think that will continue tonight.

The over/under for this game is 8.5 runs (EVEN/-130), and I think your best bet is the over (EVEN). I think Gonzalez will shut the Braves down, but I have a feeling the Nationals’ bats will have a fine night.

Finally, I think the point spread is where your value really lies. The Nationals are -1.5 runs favorites (+120), and I think they will cover that spread en route to a series opener victory.