The Red Sox and Nationals close out their three-game interleague series Thursday afternoon in Washington. Chris Sale makes his second start for Boston since returning from a lengthy stint on the IL, while another veteran lefty in Patrick Corbin takes the mound for Washington.
The Red Sox are the betting favorites at -192 on the moneyline, while the over/under is set at 9.5 runs. The prediction here is that the Red Sox win and the over hits.
Red Sox vs. Nationals Prediction
Starting pitchers: LHP Chris Sale (5-2, 4.52 ERA) vs. LHP Patrick Corbin (7-11, 4.85 ERA)
Chris Sale announced his return with authority less than one week ago.
In his first start since going on the IL on June 2, Sale retired the first 14 batters he faced on Friday against Detroit. The 15th batter smashed a solo home run for the only hit and only run that Sale allowed on the day. He threw 58 pitches and struck out 7 batters in his 4-2/3 innings of work.
Clinging to their playoff hopes, the Red Sox certainly hope that was a sign of things to come as we near the home stretch of the MLB season. We’ll get more evidence today if Sale really is back and as good as ever.
He showed no signs of rust in that outing, throwing over 70% of his pitches for strikes (42-of-58) and reaching 96 mph with his fastball. He seemed to be picking up where he left off before the injury, when he posted a 2.25 ERA and 0.83 WHIP over his 6 previous starts (36 innings).
In his 13-year career, Sale has had virtually no exposure to the Nationals’ current lineup, which has 1 career at-bat against the 7-time All-Star. The Nationals do have a preference for lefty pitchers, as they are hitting .278 (4th) with a .772 OPS (8th) and .334 wOBA (8th) against southpaws compared to .250 with a .694 OPS and .304 wOBA against righties.
Sale certainly has the edge on the mound over Washington starter Patrick Corbin, who is among the league’s worst starters this season (minimum 80 innings) in terms of ERA (4.85, 23rd highest), WHIP (1.50, 10th highest), wOBA (.349, 11th highest), BAA (.292, 7th highest) and FIP (5.24, 11th highest).
He faces a Boston lineup that has struggled so far this month. While they are top 10 in offense on the season (4.8/game), they have scored just 3.85/game so far in August (24th). They did get a recent boost from the return of Trevor Story on August 8. Story had a 4-hit game just a few days ago against Detroit, including 3 doubles and 2 stolen bases.
Even in the midst of a mini-slump offensively, it’s hard not to like the Red Sox today with Sale on the mound. We’ll take the short -192 moneyline odds and back the favorites in this one.
If Sale continues to look strong, then that should make the under on 9.5 runs a good bet as well.
Boston’s quiet bats make the under even more appealing at -110 odds (only at FanDuel as of this writing)
Red Sox vs. Nationals Prediction: Red Sox moneyline (-192), under 9.5 runs (-110)
Note: all metrics above taken before Wednesday’s games
Red Sox vs. Nationals Odds
The Red Sox are pretty heavy favorites in this game with -192 moneyline odds, while the Nationals are at +160 on the moneyline.
The Red Sox are laying -1.5 runs on the spread at -120 odds, while the Nationals are getting +1.5 runs at +100 odds.
The over/under in this game is set at 9.5 runs with -102 odds on the over and -118 odds on the under. You can get the under at -110 on FanDuel.
Red Sox vs. Nationals Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Red Sox vs. Nationals.
Patrick Corbin vs. Red Sox righties
Although confidence in Chris Sale was the main reason for picking the Red Sox moneyline in our Red Sox vs. Nationals prediction, the Red Sox bats’ against Patrick Corbin is the matchup to watch in this game.
The Red Sox are expected to have just two lefties in their starting lineup, and three of their top right-handed bats have plenty of career success against Corbin. Justin Turner is hitting .410 lifetime against Corbin (39 at-bats), Adam Duvall is hitting .343 (35 at-bats), and Trevor Story is hitting .333 (30 at-bats). Those three sluggers have hit 7 homers combined off Story in their careers.
If that trio can help the Red Sox give Sale some run support early in this game and allow him to attack the strike zone, that should be a great recipe for a Red Sox victory.
The Red Sox also have a big edge in the bullpen in this matchup. They are 11th in bullpen ERA this season (3.93) and 12th in FIP (4.05). They have remained consistent over the last month with marks of 4.01 and 3.71 since the All-Star Break.
Washington has one of the worst bullpens in the league, with a 4.95 ERA (28th) and a 4.91 FIP (29th). They have only been slightly better since the All-Star Break with marks of 4.71 and 4.35.
These numbers should provide even more confidence in a Red Sox moneyline bet, even if the potential for a late implosion by Washington’s pen makes the under pick a bit dicey.
Red Sox vs. Nationals Starting Lineups (Projected)
Red Sox Starting Lineup
LF Rob Refsnyder (R)
1B Justin Turner (R)
3B Rafael Devers (L)
CF Adam Duvall (R)
DH Masataka Yoshida (L)
SS Trevor Story (R)
RF Alex Verdugo (L)
2B Pablo Reyes (R)
C Connor Wong (R)
Nationals Starting Lineup
SS CJ Abrams (L)
RF Lane Thomas (R)
DH Joey Meneses (R)
C Keibert Ruiz (S)
1B Dominic Smith (L)
LF Stone Garrett (R)
3B Ildemaro Vargas (S)
2B Michael Chavis (R)
CF Alex Call (R)