Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Betting Preview

The Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals close out their three-game set Thursday night from the nation’s capital in their first series of the season. They’ll become plenty familiar with each other the rest of the way, as the two NL East squads will meet seven more times, including a four-game clash beginning Monday of next week in Philly. 

The Nationals, looking to avoid the sweep, enter Thursday’s matchup as the heavy home favorite (-184) with the bookmakers setting the O/U at nine runs.

Break out the Brooms?

On Wednesday night, the Phillies won a game scoring five runs or fewer for the first time all season (they had been 0-10), and in the process earned Joe Girardi his 1,000th career victory as an MLB manager. A win on Thursday will match their season-high four-game win streak, set less than two weeks ago and followed by five straight losses. 

The Phillies began the series at the bottom of the NL East, and these two-straight victories enabled them to leapfrog both the Nats and the Marlins. But they remain four games back of the first-place Braves.

Thursday, they’ll hand the ball to rookie right-hander, Spencer Howard, who the Phillies have committed to cementing in the staff over Vince Velasquez.

Mad Max

Howard will have a tall task ahead of him as he tries to improve upon his rookie campaign, with Max Scherzer taking the hill for Washington. The three-time Cy Young award winner has been somewhat pedestrian, comparatively speaking, entering Thursday’s game with a 4.31 ERA over his first six starts.

The NL strikeout-leader in three of the last four seasons is T-12th with 44 K’s as he welcomes Phillies hitters to Nationals Park.

Losing Stephen Strasburg to season-ending carpal tunnel surgery has hurt the defending champions, as the staff has compiled a 4.97 ERA, ranking 21st in all of Major League Baseball. Scherzer, however, is 11-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 20 career starts against Philadelphia.

Betting Pick

Wednesday’s defeat dropped the Nationals to a season-worst six games under .500, but Juan Soto and Trae Turner have been bright spots. Soto hit his 8th home run of the season Wednesday despite missing the first eight games due to a positive Covid-19 test. Turner also extended his hitting streak to 12 games on Wednesday.

On paper, it’s an obvious mismatch looking at the pitching matchup alone. Established ace vs. a rookie trying to find his groove. But the Phillies have found something since bolstering their bullpen last weekend, and they’ve won the first two games of the series two completely different ways.

Their objective Wednesday was to make Patrick Corbin throw a lot of pitches, and they accomplished that. Scherzer may have a longer leash and higher threshold, but the goal remains the same, and keep in mind, he didn’t get out of the 5th inning against the Marlins his last time out.

The odds are too juicy to pass up, especially if Max only goes six innings or less.

Take the Phillies to win (+156) to complete the sweep.

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