Looking to scratch an action itch? You bet we got you covered. Every day our ravenous bettors scour the web for their favorite player props to boost the bankroll. Today’s featured line comes from Matthew Davis.
Washington Nationals NL East Division Winner (+350, DraftKings)
The Nationals opened 2020 as a -220 favorite to win the NL East division. On Opening Day, they lost Juan Soto to a positive COVID-19 test, and Stephen Strasburg has missed time with nerve issues. The team is currently in fourth place in the NL East, but only three games back of the Miami Marlins in first. With the slow start out of the gate and three other teams ahead of them, their division prop has shifted to +350. I’m still confident the Nationals are still supreme in the NL East with the +350 being an overreaction. Here’s why:
Starting rotations need depth, talent and experience for a team to win a division. If not, the team will eventually crumble as bullpens cannot sustain being overworked and it’s difficult for any offense to carry a team for a long period of time. And the other divisions in the East are in a pickle:
- Max Fried, Touki Toussaint and Kyle Wright are the only starters the Braves currently have scheduled in the rotation. Their ace Mike Soroka is out for the season (Achilles), Mike Foltynewicz has been DFA’d, Félix Hernández opted out and Cole Hamels is a huge question mark with triceps tendinitis. Ian Anderson and Bryse Wilson are talented but inexperienced. The youth fountain is real, and the lack of depth is going to hurt immensely.
- The Mets were already down a starter with the absence of Noah Syndergaard (Tommy John). Monday, Marcus Stroman opted out. Michael Wacha recently hit the IL (shoulder) and Steven Matz is a roller coaster, allowing an absurd 3.86 HR/9 with an ERA of 8.20 after four starts.
- COVID-19 hit the Marlins, but they’re somehow currently in first place with a 7-3 record. Their best starter Sandy Alcantara is out (undisclosed) along with Caleb Smith (undisclosed) and Jose Ureña (COVID-19). Pablo López, Elieser Hernandez and Jordan Yamamoto are holding the fort down for now. This staff isn’t sustainable regardless of depth. Marlins’ starters currently have the fourth highest HR/9 rate (1.80) and eighth highest walk rate (10.4%).
- Aaron Nola is back to being the ace we saw in 2018 but his posse in Philadelphia isn’t close to replicating his success. Zack Wheeler is supposed to be the stable No.2 but hasn’t looked sharp with a K-BB% of 4.2%. Even if both Nola and Wheeler perform above expectations the remaining rotation wobbly with Zach Eflin, Jake Arrieta and Vince Velasquez. The three combined are averaging less than five innings per start.
- Max Scherzer had a hamstring scare and Stephen Strasburg was on the IL (hand) the first couple of weeks. This has had a significant impact on the sportsbooks, moving the Nationals to +350. Patrick Corbin is arguably the best No. 3 in the league and has proved that thus far, going 2-0 with a 23.6% K-BB%, leading to a 2.50 ERA. While Aníbal Sánchez has gotten off to a rough start, he is a veteran that has shown success since joining the Nationals in 2019. Austin Voth is the fifth starter but has looked more like a three or four. The budding 28-year-old is showing positive signs with a meager walk rate of 2.7%. Voth has increased his curveball usage (33.6%), limiting hitters to a 31.0% hard hit rate.
- The bullpens around the division are a mess as well. The Phillies are on their way to an all-time high bullpen ERA (9.87), and the Mets are doing their best to keep pace at 5.35. The Braves’ and Marlins’ pens are both logging ERAs under 3.50, but the Marlins are doing that despite a league-worst 4.93 SIERA.
- The depth and amount of innings the Nationals’ starters are able to eat mitigate some of the team’s own bullpen volatility, with fewer innings being needed from the relievers. As of now the Nationals’ bullpen owns a 3.64 ERA with Daniel Hudson leading the way as their closer, posting an elite 35.0% strikeout rate and 14.1% swinging strike rate.
The division’s offenses are in a better place, with the Nationals’ 98 wRC+ the only one in the division under 100. That said, since Soto’s return last week, the team’s wRC+ has risen to 105. Washington has a lineup stacked with speed and power. Their contact rate of 78.2% is currently the third-highest. Positional flexibility and experience are both huge positives for the Nationals as well. With an offense that can keep up with anyone and a rotation with depth and experience it’s going to be hard for the Nationals to lay down. They are only three games out of first even with Soto and Strasburg missing the beginning of the season. Going from -220 to +350 in less than three weeks is absurd.