Nationals vs. Padres – Free MLB Pick For August 17th

by Kevin Roberts
on August 17, 2017

The Washington Nationals head to Petco Park to start a new series with the San Diego Padres on Thursday night, one in which they begin as unlikely underdogs.

The Nats fell to the Los Angeles Angels in a tight game on Wednesday, but have still been strong lately as winners of 7 of their last 10 games. Sitting atop the NL East at 71-47, the Bryce Harper-less Nationals still look like one of the best teams in baseball.

While the same can’t be said for the Padres, they do get a home game (where they’re 32-27) and they’ve been more competitive lately than people give them credit for. A 5-5 run (winners of three straight) has helped keep them out of the bottom of the NL West, as well.

Still, we’re supposed to back the favored Padres in this contest? It seems hard to believe, especially considering the value we get with the Nats in this spot. Let’s take a closer look just to be sure which betting angle we should take in this matchup:

Washington Nationals (+101)
San Diego Padres (-121)
Total: 8.5

There is no way around the betting approach for this game. Either you’re jumping at the Nats and the value they bring to the table as +101 underdogs, or you’re targeting the Total. Nothing about the Padres at -121 against Washington feels good.

I can see the reasoning for San Diego being favored and it completely has to do with the pitching. Edwin Jackson (3-2, 3.86 ERA) is not an elite arm and while experienced, his penchant for giving up the long ball could easily lead to an implosion in the very near future.

This is a dicey pitcher to toss at the Padres, who basically live off of what little power they do have. This park should be a safety net, though, and as troubling as Jackson’s contact can be, he’s actually in a really nice spot.

Jackson hasn’t been trash for the Nats, either. The 33-year old righty has gone at least five innings deep in every start he’s made for Washington and he’s allowed two or fewer runs in three of those starts. It’s never sexy with Jackson, but if the Nats are the underdog mostly because of him, I’m not that scared.

San Diego’s bats are the bigger reason why. They have plenty of pop (15th in home runs against right-handed pitching), but they rank dead last in batting average against that handedness and have the 4th most strikeouts on the year.

It’s not that we’re trusting Jackson here. It’s that we’re not necessarily trusting the Padres.

That lack of trust could extend to their arm, too, as Jhoulys Chacin (11-8, 4.06 ERA) shoots for his 12th win of the year in the face of a brutal matchup.

Chacin is actually elite in this park in 2017 (7-2, 1.86 ERA), but there’s still a lot working against him. He didn’t fare too well when he took on these Nats earlier this year, for one. Chacin lasted just four innings, giving up 8 hits, 3 runs and 2 walks.

I note the concern with how dialed in Chacin is at home this year. He’s allowed just three total runs over his last four home starts and in general has been pretty stingy lately. That’s all true, but Chacin is far from an elite arm and we’ve seen him get rocked in the past.

I don’t necessarily see Chacin getting blasted here, but this is not a good matchup for him at all. The Nats rank 4th in home runs and 3rd in batting average against right-handed pitching and Chacin isn’t tossing them anything they haven’t seen already this year.

In the end, we want the value with the Nats being underdogs against the Padres. That’s an easy win and probably one of the best bets on the board tonight.

Pick: Washington Nationals to Win (+101)
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