The Washington Nationals have dealt with injuries, inconsistency and a stop-and-start schedule in their World Series-defending campaign, and on Friday they travel to face an unexpectedly tough foe in the Baltimore Orioles.
Baltimore posted a 54-108 record and did little to inspire confidence in a turnaround, yet the O's have defied the odds and are 10-7 entering tonight's Beltway Series rivalry clash. They have an advantage, too: these teams will finish a previously suspended game, which Baltimore leads 5-2, and then play another after that for a pseudo-doubleheader.
Check out abe Insights' betting preview for more on this interesting matchup, which features a breakdown framed around the full game that follows the completion of the suspended contest (that'll start in the top of the sixth inning at 5:05 p.m. ET).
Date: Friday, August 14
Time: 7:35 p.m. ET
TV: MLB Network; MASN
Implied Probabilities: Nationals 62%; Orioles 39%
Spread: WSH -1.5 (-105); BAL +1.5 (-108)
Moneyline: WSH -164; BAL +155
To call back to the injury adversity mentioned in the intro about Washington, reigning World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg hasn't been quite right this year. He let up five runs in 4.1 innings against the Orioles in his only start to date, that suspended game, but he's projected to take the mound for a redemptive encore in the nightcap.
Starting on the mound for Baltimore is Tommy Milone, who's yielded just as many runs as Strasburg in 2020, except over the course of three starts. Milone has a 1-1 record with a 3.21 ERA. The southpaw actually began his vagabond MLB career with Washington in 2011, and had another year-long stint with the club in 2018.
8.4 vs 5.8: These are the respective run averages per game the O's and Nats have posted over their last five full games. Prolific production at the plate has been key in driving Baltimore's streak of five wins in a row.
.346 vs. .311: A unique blend of power and discipline has allowed the Orioles' offense to rank second in MLB in weighted on-base average (wOBA). Washington ranks just 20th out of 30 teams in this statistic.
3.70 vs. 4.56: Thanks to a stout bullpen, Baltimore's relievers rank fifth in Expected Fielding Independent Pitching, whereas the Nats are 11th-worst in the category. This bodes well for the Orioles in the suspended game, and in the follow-up, even if Strasburg has his best stuff.
No need to belabor a point, yet it's still worth noting just how bad experts expected the Orioles to continue being. The team's official MASN Twitter account actually trolled what appeared to be an ESPN predictor who said Baltimore would hit Under 20.5 wins in the 60-game season — and may not even win 10.
Well, surprise! With one "W" on Friday, the O's would be more than halfway to hitting the Over. And it'd be quite an achievement and morale boost to defeat the Nats, who had an idle transition to August due to their series with the Marlins being postponed. Plus, Strasburg made a belated debut, as did 21-year-old phenom Juan Soto.
But with Strasburg back on the diamond and Soto returned from a positive COVID-19 test, this looks more like the team that claimed the most recent Fall Classic. Soto has been on a tear across seven games to date, with a slash line of .423/.464/1.077 at the plate.
More positive vibes for Baltimore, though: the last time Milone faced Washington, he earned his lone winning decision of 2020 in an 11-0 rout. This club is for real, and its batting order is piping-hot with poppy, powerful bats, as Strasburg learned firsthand in his rocky prior outing.
Provided the Orioles can retain their lead Friday in the suspended opener, they should have ample momentum and prior experience against Strasburg to draw on and help their cause to pick up two quick victories.
Hard not to ride the hot hand with Baltimore considering its charming underdog story, explosive offense and five-game winning streak. Wagers are likely to go toward the Nationals' spread and moneyline, however, with Strasburg on the hill.
In terms of the run total, well, Soto has provided a spark to the Nats lineup, and the O's are showing no signs of slowing as a collective batting order. Thus, look for bets to favor the Over.
Note: Odds current as of 11:15 a.m. ET on Friday, August 14.
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