Nationals vs Rockies Preview: Surprising Nat’s!

Nationals Are A Legitimate Wild Card Contender

While it doesn’t take too much to be in the Wild Card mix in the National League, the Washington Nationals — and their surprisingly formidable rotation — are firmly in consideration for a playoff spot nearly halfway through the season. They’ll try to keep pace in a tightly packed glut of right-around-.500 teams this weekend in Denver against the lowly Colorado Rockies, who are 26-49 and just lost three of four to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This Nationals vs Rockies preview notes how Washington is only a -119 moneyline favorite for Friday’s opener and is +125 to win by two or more runs. The total is 11 runs.

Washington lost two of three to the Arizona Diamondbacks this week at home but has won nine of 12 overall and, most importantly, does not have Patrick Corbin scheduled to pitch in this season. Corbin, once again, has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball and is dragging down Washington’s MLB team stats in pitching. The rest of the starters — including DJ Herz, Mitchell Parker and Jake Irvin who will start the three games at Coors Field — have been really good on the whole, despite their youth.

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Not much has gone right for the Rockies all season between Kris Bryant’s perpetual injuries to the worst-in-baseball pitching staff. One major bright spot has been Ryan McMahon, who is playing like an All-Star but — knowing how Colorado operates — figures to be a highly-sought-after trade piece on the market. Surprisingly, considering where the Rockies play their home games, he’s one of only a few of Bud Black’s players having an impressive offensive season.

Nationals logo Nationals vs Rockies Rockies logo

📍Location: Coors Field; Denver, Colorado

Nationals’ Young Starters Look Great

A major reason why this Nationals vs Rockies preview, and the gambling lines, are so favorable to Washington is because of how good guys like Herz, Parker and Irvin have been for the Nationals despite very short track records, if any. Herz and Parker are true rookies and Irvin is in just his second MLB season but all three — Herz to a lesser extent because he has only made a few starts — have impressed and have been major contributors to a Nationals’ rotation that is 13th in ERA when it was expected to among the worst in baseball.

Granted, it won’t be easy for some to handle the Coors Field altitude even against the Rockies’ subpar lineup but, if any group of pitchers can adapt it’s these guys. All three of them are good at limiting the home run ball, they don’t walk many batters and, outside of Herz, don’t heavily rely on strikeouts. You might think that being a strikeout pitcher is the key to success in Denver but the thin air makes it tougher for breaking pitches to break, thus making them less successful for swings-and-misses.

What’s important is to keep the ball on the ground and to ensure that any contact is as soft as possible. The issue on the MLB lines is that Herz is the biggest strikeout pitcher of the bunch and has walked five batters in 14 1/3 innings. It’s a small sample to be fair but it’s not the best profile for Coors. Still, Herz has missed so many bats early in his MLB tenure — and does so in large part with a hard fastball — that he could still do fine.

Colorado’s Pitching Is Brutal

It’s not a surprise that both the Rockies’ rotation and bullpen are dead-last in baseball in ERA and WHIP and hits allowed per nine innings. However, for that to be the case and them to be last and third-to-last, respectively, in strikeout rate just makes it almost impossible for Colorado to slow down even middle-of-the-pack offenses. That’s why any Nationals vs Rockies preview has to discuss how Washington is probably undervalued despite its own offensive issues — 25th in runs, 28th in homers, 27th in OPS.

If the Nationals can put up some runs against any team, it’s the Rockies. The Colorado Rockies standings show, they’re just a half-game ahead of the Marlins at the bottom of the National League. Washington has a very good chance in Friday’s opener and in this series.

Colorado’s best starter, Cal Quantrill, is pitching on Saturday while Dakota Hudson and his 4.89 ERA go on Friday and Kyle Freeland — who had a hideous 13.21 ERA before getting injured — starts on Sunday in his first outing back from the IL. Washington may have the edge in every matchup.

Go With Washington

Take Washington on Friday either straight-up as -119 favorites on the moneyline or at +125 on the runline to win by two runs or more. Herz has been really good in the Majors, Hudson has walked nearly as many batters as he has struck out and the Rockies are missing a ton of key bats due to injury. It’s all pointing in the direction of the young and exciting Nationals who are pretty much at full strength. The over 11 runs (-120) looks great too.

Nationals vs Rockies Odds

For MLB picks, odds analysis, and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.

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