Thursday evening will feature the finale of a four-game series between the Washington Nationals (42-43) and the San Diego Padres (51-38). The Padres will host this one at Petco Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 9:10 pm ET.
The Nationals have the advantage coming into the last game as they have taken two of the first three. After splitting the first two games, the Nationals won Wednesday’s contest 15-5.
In the win, the Nationals erupted for 15 runs on 17 hits, including Juan Soto’s 11th home run of the season. Patrick Corbin pitched well, going six innings and allowing just two runs.
Eric Hosmer hit his seventh home run of the season, and Trent Grisham hit his 11th, but it wasn’t enough for the Padres. Chris Paddack was roughed up as he went just a couple of innings and gave up nine runs (eight earned) on nine hits.
The Padres are the favorites playing at home on Thursday. They are -144 to win while the Nationals’ moneyline is +122. The runline features Washington +1.5 (-188), and the over/under for total runs is 6.5.
It doesn’t get much better than this in terms of pitching matchups, as this contest will feature two legitimate contenders for the N.L. Cy Young Award.
The Nationals will send veteran righty Max Scherzer to the mound Thursday. On the season, he is 7-4 with a 2.10 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and opponents are hitting just .179 against him. In 94.1 innings, he has struck out 127 versus just 21 walks.
San Diego will counter with their ace, Yu Darvish. This season, Darvish is 7-3 with a 2.65 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and opponents are hitting just .198 against him. In 102 innings, he has struck out 123 versus just 24 walks.
By The Numbers
Offensively, San Diego has been a significantly better team this season. They rank 10th, averaging 4.65 runs per game. The Nationals fall to 26th, averaging just 4.06 runs per game (4.58 on the road).
It is once again the Padres with the advantage on the defensive side. They rank third in the majors in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 3.66 runs per game. The Nationals rank 12th allowing 4.23 runs.
Nationals Aim For Series Win
While the Nationals are under .500 on the season, they sit just four games back of the first place in their division. As they try to catch the New York Mets, picking up a series win, especially on the road against a team the caliber of the Padres, would be a huge first step.
Unfortunately, the Nationals lost their best offensive weapon in Kyle Schwarber, but they still have plenty of pieces to put up runs. Trea Turner has been remarkable this season, hitting .317/.365/.512 with 15 home runs, 39 runs batted in, 53 runs scored, and 18 stolen bases.
The Nationals were also excited to see some pop out of Juan Soto on Wednesday. Even though he is in the Home Run Derby this All-Star break, he has only managed 11 long balls on the season for the Nationals.
Padres Trying To Keep Pace In N.L. West
At 51-38, the Padres have the fourth-best record in the entire National League, but they have just the third-best record in their own division. With the Padres looking up at both the Giants and the Dodgers in the standings, every win is crucial.
Luckily, the Padres have one of the most exciting players in baseball on their team in Fernando Tatis Jr. On the season, he is hitting .297/.378/.680 with 27 home runs, 58 runs batted, 66 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases.
One player to keep an eye on in this one is Eric Hosmer. In six at-bats versus Scherzer in his career, Hosmer is hitting .500 with a home run.
Taking The Nationals And The Runs
Thursday truly features a battle of legitimate aces. As a result, runs could be at a premium, which is reflective in the over/under being set at just 6.5.
With runs expected to be down, the best bet seems to be on the runline in this matchup. Take the Nationals and the 1.5 runs at -188.