The Orioles and Nationals have been occupying the DC metro area together for the better part of two decades now, but we’re still waiting for a real rivalry to develop. Both teams haven’t been competitive at the same time in many of those years, and there aren’t many NL/AL rivalries in the game to begin with. Still, it would be more fun if the two teams actually had some bad blood in order to make the games more interesting.
Regardless, they still play each other every year. The Nationals have been the more successful club over the last few years, but so far this season, the Orioles have actually had the edge. The O’s have taken two of the first three head-to-head meetings this season, including a 2-0 triumph over Patrick Corbin and the Nats at Nationals Park on Tuesday night.
The Nats will look to even the series on Wednesday with Max Scherzer taking the mound. The Orioles will counter with right-hander Asher Wojciechowski.
|2019 ATR Home||26-42||32-31|
|2019 ATR Away||31-33||41-27|
|2019 O/U Home||35-29-4||31-30-2|
|2019 O/U Away||29-29-6||30-33-5|
Scherzer returned from a back injury to make his last start six days ago in Pittsburgh. The Nationals were careful with his pitch count in his first outing, as he was lifted after throwing just 71 pitches across four innings. The Nationals went on to win the game 7-1, but he didn’t pitch deep enough to earn the victory for himself.
One would imagine Scherzer will have a longer leash today, and 85-90 pitches probably isn’t out of the question. The former Cy Young winner has been as good as ever when healthy so far this season. He boasts a strikeout rate of 34.8%, which is one of the highest marks in the league among starters, alongside a walk rate of just 4.7%.
Scherzer has impressively allowed just 11 homers across 21 starts. Home runs have been one of the few problem areas for him in the past, but he has been good about limiting power so far in 2019. His ERA of 2.41 is a bit better than his 2.92 xFIP, but both are elite marks. The Nationals are under .500 this season in games started by their ace, but that’s no fault of his own.
Scherzer will be facing a Baltimore lineup with a collective 20.3% strikeout rate against right-handed pitching. Of course, Mad Max isn’t your everyday right-hander. The O’s also have a collective .330 wOBA and .187 ISO against righties, neither of which really jumps off the page. The bottom of this order in particular is littered with high-strikeout hitters, so Scherzer should have little issue mowing them down in this start tonight.
Wojciechowski has been something of a journeyman, but he has given the Orioles some solid outings so far this year. The 30-year-old is just 2-6 through 11 appearances, including 10 starts, with a 4.67 ERA. His 5.73 xFIP also leaves plenty to be desired.
Wojciechowski has at least been able to miss some bats. His 24.9% K-rate on the year is above-average, but his 9.9% walk rate can get him into trouble at times. The right-hander has also benefited from a fairly lucky .231 BABIP allowed, and his fly ball rate over 58% means he is vulnerable to allowing home runs.
Washington was quiet with the bats on Tuesday, but the Nationals still have a strong lineup top to bottom. Washington’s projected lineup has an ISO north of .220 against right-handed pitching this season, which is largely buoyed by a potent top-half of the order that includes the likes of Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, and Trea Turner.
I’m going to play it safe with this one and go with the favorite at most sports betting sites. The Nationals will bounce back from an underwhelming performance on Monday night against Woj and Baltimore’s disastrous bullpen. Backing the Nationals with Scherzer on the mound isn’t exactly bold, but I still think there is a little bit of value to be had in betting on Washington to cover the runline here at -190.
Mad Max will stifle the O’s, and the Nats will win this one going away.
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