Atlanta Braves vs Washington Nationals: Preview, Prediction & Odds -- Aug. 14, 2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: 6:05 p.m. ET
Venue: Nationals Park, Washington, DC
Where to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, MASN 2, MLB Network

Season-to-date (entering Friday)
Braves: 59-56 (3rd place, NL East)
Nationals: 50-65 (4th place, NL East)

Projected lineups


Braves:
Ozzie Albies (S) 2B
Jorge Soler (R) RF
Freddie Freeman (L) 1B
Austin Riley (R) 3B
Dansby Swanson (R) SS
Adam Duvall (R) LF
Joc Pederson (L) CF
Stephen Vogt (L) C
Max Fried (L) P

Nationals:
Victor Robles (R) CF
Alcides Escobar (R) SS
Juan Soto (L) RF
Josh Bell (S) 1B
Yadiel Hernandez (L) LF
Carter Kieboom (R) 3B
Luis Garcia (L) 2B
Riley Adams (R) C
Patrick Corbin (L) P

Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Braves -180, Nationals +155; Over 9 +100, Under 9 -120

Recent form (entering Friday)
Braves: Won seven of nine
Nationals: Lost nine of 10

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Braves - Nationals preview


Very kind of the Atlanta Braves to join the National League East parade at the top.

Once four games back of the top spot on Aug. 1, the Braves won seven of their next nine to put themselves back in the discussion for the NL East. They were even tied for the lead on Wednesday before getting blasted by the Cincinnati Reds at home on Thursday.

The Braves embarked on a nine-game road trip Friday against the Washington Nationals. The two division rivals continue their three-game series Saturday with Max Fried taking the mound for Atlanta.

Washington, at the time of writing, has not named a starting pitcher.

The Braves have made things interesting in this oblong division since the trade deadline. The additions of Jorge Soler and Joc Pederson have been fruitful at both ends of the lineup. Soler, the former Kansas City Royals outfielder, has seen his average go from .192 to .205 in a matter of 10 games. The RBI aren’t there, but he’s getting on base.

Pederson’s average has also seen an uptick since coming to Atlanta from the Chicago Cubs. The former All-Star also isn’t known for contact, but he’s batting .274 since going to the Braves on July 16 and has driven in 13 runs. The three homers have been surprisingly quiet.

Whether these additions can be enough for the Braves to overtake the Philadelphia Phillies, and the New York Mets to a lesser degree, will need to be known quickly. The Braves enter Friday coming off a 12-3 loss to the Reds despite winning two of three in that series. A rough day for Kyle Muller (six earned runs) and Josh Tomlin (five earned runs, three homers allowed).

“It's a business and I had a really great opportunity today to prove myself to the organization,” the 23-year-old Muller said. “We needed to win to stay tied for first place and I didn't show up.”

The NL East was once a two-team race between Philadelphia and New York, but the Braves have reluctantly entered the chat because two teams are going to be set up for failure come September. The ultimate participation trophy lies in the NL East. Second place gets the trophy, third gets a pat on the back.

The Nationals are over here wondering what they get for fourth place, other than hysterical laughter at selling the farm as quickly as they did. It’s a lonely island for star Juan Soto after Washington moved on from Max Scherzer, Trea Turner and Kyle Schwarber.

As expected, the Nationals have not been great since moving on from those three due to the loud number of L’s on their docket. Soto is creeping toward another spectacular season, batting .301 with 19 home runs this season.

But it’s been a rough go for the Nationals, coming off being swept in a doubleheader from the Mets. It doesn’t get any easier; following the Braves, the Nationals host the red-hot Toronto Blue Jays for two games, then go on a nine-game road trip against the Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins and the Mets.

Trends


The Nationals are an abysmal 4-15 (-10.2) when they’re a home underdog of +100 or higher. Once upon a time, this used to be a daunting home-field advantage. Now, it’s been hard to generate excitement as a favorable betting option. The under is 11-8 in those games.

The Braves being close to a .500 team also translates to the books. Atlanta is only 37-35 when a favorite of -110 or higher, and 20-21 when the line is between -125 and -175. Even though they’re a run-of-the-mill team and have played well as of late (and should play well in the matchup this weekend), this is telling of how reliable they’ll be down the stretch. It may not be good.

However, the Braves tend to cool off after a stretch of winning five or six of their past seven games, going 4-13 (-14.4) in the following contest.

Prediction


After Sunday, we’ll get a better look at where the Braves are. If they fail to take care of business this weekend, it will have been a gigantic failure from the pitching to the team batting. On this game in particular, the Braves should get the job done. Braves win, under cashes.

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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