In a rematch of the 2019 NLCS, the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals kick off a series on Monday night in St. Louis. The Cardinals are favored with a moneyline of -140 compared to Washington’s moneyline of +120. This game also has an over/under of 8.5 runs.
After their season was delayed due to COVID concerns, it’s been a struggle for the Nationals, who are still missing several key players. Washington is just 1-5 on the season and has lost five in a row heading into this week’s series in St. Louis.
Of course, the Cardinals haven’t been able to get off to the kind of start they would have liked either. St. Louis was able to beat up on the Marlins, winning three games in Miami last week. However, the Cards have also lost series to the Reds and Brewers, dropping back-to-back home games against the Brew Crew over the weekend.
The Bright Spot
The Cardinals expected their starting pitching to carry them this season, but Monday’s starter John Gant has been the lone bright spot in the rotation thus far. In his first start of the season, Gant faced the Marlins, allowing just one unearned run over four innings. He’ll look for similar results against a watered-down Washington lineup.
The likes of Josh Bell, Kyle Schwarber, and Josh Harrison remain on the IL, depriving the Nationals of some important middle-of-the-order hitters. The silver lining is that they still have Juan Soto and Trea Turners, who of the best hitters in baseball who have gotten off to a good start. Veterans Ryan Zimmerman and Jonathan Lucroy have also been surprisingly productive this year, giving the Nationals some much-needed depth with Bell and Schwarber unavailable.
The Nationals will be thrilled to send Stephen Strasburg to the mound on Monday night. After an injury-plagued 2020 season, Strasburg was outstanding in his first start of the 2021 season. Against a powerful Atlanta lineup, he allowed just one hit and two walks over six scoreless innings while striking out eight.
On Monday, Strasburg will be facing a St. Louis lineup that’s still trying to put the pieces together this season. Despite his three home runs, Dylan Carlson has struggled, hitting just .207. The rest of the club’s young outfielders haven’t been much better, leaving Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt to carry the St. Louis lineup, as expected.
Don’t Doubt the Stras
While Gant pitched well in his first start of the season, he doesn’t compare to what the Nationals can expect out of Strasburg. The Washington starter has done a decent job of containing Arenado and Goldschmidt during his career. If that continues, the Cardinals don’t have a lot of other players who can do damage.
Meanwhile, the Nationals should start to break out of their offensive funk. Despite being shut out three times in their last four games, the Nationals should start to shake off the rust. Plus, if Strasburg delivers a good performance, Soto and Turner alone could produce enough offense to get a win. With the more lucrative moneyline, bet on the Nats to beat St. Louis on Monday.
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