New York Yankees at Washington Nationals Pick 7/23/20

July 23, 7:00 PM EDT

Betting Odds

Yankees -140/Nationals +120
NYY -1.5 (+125)

Praise the Lord and pass the PBR! Baseball is back, beginning Thursday night when the defending World Series champion Nationals battle the Yankees in the opener of a three-game weekend series in DC. Washington moves forward this season without its biggest stick, after Anthony Rendon bailed for California, while New York begins by featuring its latest big-time acquisition, Gerrit Cole. How are we playing this one with our free MLB pick?

MLB Betting Odds

MLB's betting odds for this game opened the Yanks and Cole at around -130 over the Nats and Scherzer, with an over/under of 7.5 runs. Early betting action then bumped New York about a dime, to around -140.

Yankees vs. Nationals Set-Up

Washington, as we recall, won the World Series last year. The Nats actually started terribly previous season, going 19-31 through their first 50 games. But they played 74-38 from there to finish 93-69, good enough to host the NL wild-card game, which they then won in come-from-behind fashion over Milwaukee. Washington then rallied to beat the Dodgers in five games in the NLDS, swept St. Louis in four games to win the NLCS, then outlasted Houston in seven games to win the World Series, taking the last two games in H-Town for the title.

Over the off-season, Washington re-signed SP and World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg but took a big hit when it lost 3B Anthony Rendon, who only led the team in batting, OBP, slugging, hits, total bases, RBI and homers (tied) last year. In an effort to offset the loss of that production, the Nats added infielders Starlin Castro and Asdrubal Cabrera and left-handed stick Eric Thames.

Heading into their 60-game schedule, the Nationals face a betting wins over/under of 33.5, the third-highest total in the National League.

Meanwhile, New York played through a bunch of injuries to key people last year and still finished 103-59, winning the AL East for the first time since 2012. The Yanks then swept Minnesota (again) in three games in the ALDS but fell to Houston in six games in the ALCS.

Over the off-season, New York pulled a Steinbrenner, signing Cole to a huge contract. The Yanks tinkered elsewhere, mainly letting several veterans go, then promoting in-house.

Heading into this shortened 2020 season, New York faces an "over/under wins" of 37.5, the highest in the American League.

These teams last met back in 2018 when they split four games over the course of a month, two games in each city. All four of those games played under the totals, as those contests trended low-scoring.

On the personnel front, Washington will be without 1B Ryan Zimmerman, who's choosing to sit out this season, and post-season hero Howie Kendrick is questionable (conditioning) for Thursday night. Meanwhile, the Yankees may be without 2B DJ LeMahieu and closer Aroldis Chapman, who both tested positive for C-19 a couple of weeks ago.

Thursday's Starting Arms

Scherzer hit for 17/27 on quality starts last season. He then did some good work during Washington's run through the playoffs, allowing just eight runs and 21 hits (plus 15 walks) through 30 innings, covering three starts and three clutch appearances in relief.

The Nationals played 16-13 in Scherzer's starts last season, then 3-0 in the playoffs.

Washington was also 2-1 last year when Scherzer was lined as an underdog on the MLB betting line.

This will be Scherzer's first start against New York since 2015, and that's already a long time ago.

Cole, meanwhile, hit 26/33 on quality starts last year pitching for Houston. He then went 4/5 on QS during the Astros playoff run, allowing eight runs and 21 hits, with 11 walks and 47 strikeouts, through 36 2/3 innings. However, five of those runs came in one loss to the Nationals in the World Series.

Houston played 26-7 in Cole's starts last year, then 4-1 in the playoffs.

Of Houston's 30 wins with Cole last year, 25 came by two runs or more.

Over two starts vs. Washington last October Cole allowed six runs and 11 hits, including three home runs, through 14 innings, with three walks and 15 whiffs. The Astros split those two games.

Yanks-Nats Batting Splits

New York batted .265 last year against right-handed pitching, with a .336 team OBP and a .484 team slugging percentage.

Washington batted .258 against RH pitching last year, with a .337 OBP and a .448 SP.

One note; the Yanks put up those numbers with a DH while the Nats didn't have an extra stick. But for this season, for whatever reason, MLB has granted Washington and the rest of the National League the use of a DH.

The Bullpens

The New York bullpen posted a 4.08 ERA last season and a 1.32 WHIP while allowing a .729 OPS. But as mentioned above, this unit could be without fireballer Chapman for the start of this season.

The Nationals bullpen posted an ML-worst 5.66 ERA last season and a 1.48 WHIP while allowing an .800 OPS. This unit got better toward the end of last season, but those numbers are still ugly. And while the Washington pen almost can't help but improve this season, to what degree is uncertain.

Totals Report

Overs played 84-72 in Yankees games last season.

Unders played 76-75 in Nationals games last season.

Overs played 41-35 in games played at Nationals Park last season.

Unders played 14-12 in Scherzer's starts last season.

Overs played 19-18 in Cole's starts last season.

MLB Yankees-Nationals Betting Trends

  • New York played 46-35 on the road last year.
  • Washington played 50-31 at home last year.
  • New York played 70-41 against right-handed starters last year.
  • Washington played 69-52 against RH starters last year.

New York Yankees at Washington Nationals Prediction 7/23/20

We gotta give Cole a slight edge in the pitching match-up, and once the bullpens get involved, it's still advantage Yankees, even without Chapman. Plus, the Nats are gonna miss Rendon. So we like New York here. And we also like taking chances. So we'll chase a price and take the Yankees getting +125, giving the 1.5 runs on the MLB run line.
Free Pick: 
Take the Yankees -1.5 runs +125