- The Washington Nationals started the season 19-31 but are 28-11 since
- Their 28-11 record since May 23rd is the best in baseball
- The Nationals’ starting pitching is as strong as any team and they’ll look like a World Series contender if they can bolster the bullpen
The Washington Nationals have been flying under the radar in the National League as few people still believe they have a shot to win the World Series. Their 2019 World Series odds were as long as +3900 at one point this season but let’s take a closer look at their performance through the first half and examine why they might be worth a play at +2800.
2019 World Series Odds
|Team||Odds for 2019 World Series Favorites|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+270|
|New York Yankees||+333|
|Boston Red Sox||+2500|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+2500|
*Odds taken 07/09/19
Best Team In Baseball Right Now?
Few people have been paying attention to the Nationals but they are a team that’s played as well as anyone since their ugly start. On May 23rd, they were 19-31. Since then, they are 28-11. Let’s compare that to some of the World Series favorites over that span to put their recent performance in perspective.
The New York Yankees, who are the favorite to win the American League Pennant, are a healthy 24-14 since May 23rd, but the Nats record is still better.
As for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are favored to win the National League, they are 27-14. Close, but still not as good as the Nationals.
The Houston Astros are 24-15 in that same time frame.
The Nationals enter the All-Star break having won 10 of their last 12 games, so they’re not cooling off. They’ve been playing fantastic and, if they keep this up, won’t be at 28/1 for very long.
Stellar Starting Pitching
We know that one of the most important factors in playoff success is starting pitching. Who has a better rotation than the Nationals right now?
Max Scherzer is the National League Cy Young Award front-runner and he’s been pitching out of his mind. He’s coming off a month where he went 6-0 with a 1.00 ERA and 0.667 WHIP. That’s incredible.
Meanwhile, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin have WHIPs of 1.11 or lower.
Sure, the Dodgers might be up there with Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw – that’s a very strong foursome – but the Nationals are right there with them in terms of starting pitching. And not many other National League teams can offer anything close.
Nats Working On The Weaknesses
Of course, there’s a reason why the Nats are at +2800. Their awful start was precipitated by a few big problems with the team. Their bullpen had an ERA 5.95 in April and 8.15 in May. They trimmed that number down to 4.54 in June.
At the plate, they were ninth in runs scored in June, 10th in OPS, and 12th in home runs.
Keep in mind that they also played two fewer games than many of the teams that ranked better. The team should also get a boost from the return of Ryan Zimmerman shortly.
What’s The Best Bet?
The Nats really have just one obvious hole and that’s the bullpen. If they can pick up a couple of arms at the trade deadline and bolster the back end, this team is a true contender. And even with that weakness, they’ve played better than the Yankees, Dodgers and Astros over the last month.
At +2800, I would take a flier on the Nats to win the World Series. With that pitching rotation, they’ll be a really tough out in the playoffs.
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