MLB Baseball: Washington Nationals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Preview, Prediction & Odds -- Sept. 12, 2021

by Big Al Staff

Game time: 1:05 p.m. ET
Venue: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Where to watch: MASN 2, AT&T SportsNet-PIT

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Nationals -135, Pirates +115
Caesars: NL

Season record (entering Saturday)
Nationals: 58-83 (Last place, NL East)
Pirates: 51-90 (Last place, NL Central)

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Nationals - Pirates preview and analysis

Recent form
Nationals: 3-7 in last 10
Pirates: 3-7 in last 10

It hasn’t been all smiles for the Pittsburgh Pirates, or even the Washington Nationals for that matter.

Friday’s game provided a bit of both even though the 4-3 outcome proved more fruitful for the Pirates on Ke’Bryan Hayes’ walk-off single in the ninth.

But the Nationals continue to show they have a heart of the lineup that can carry them for years to come. Josh Bell, the former Pittsburgh star, went 1-for-2 with a 429-foot home run to center field to give the Nationals a 3-1 lead.

Unfortunately for the Nationals, that wasn’t the storybook ending in Bell’s return to PNC Park. The Pirates rallied in the final two innings to take the opener of the three-game series by hammering away at Washington’s relief pitchers. The finale is Sunday with Bryse Wilson taking the mound for the Pirates. At time of publishing, the Nationals have yet to name a starter.

But the Nationals are hoping to get some sort of positivity out of rookie Josiah Gray when he starts Saturday. Washington, who is 9-26 since the trade deadline, is trying to get the right-hander Gray his first MLB win in nine starts. Patrick Corbin was initially supposed to get the start, but it will be Gray taking on Wil Crowe at first pitch in the middle game.

If Corbin is the projected starting pitcher for the series finale, he’ll look for his team-best eighth victory when he faces the last-place team in the National League Central. September baseball. Got to love it, friends.


Expect a much lengthier run from Wilson than what left-hander Steven Brault gave on Friday. The runs will likely come heavy in this one, and the Pirates winning this one seems like a safe bet. Pirates win 7-6.

Betting trends

The Nationals are 27-19 (+1.6 net games on the moneyline) when favored by -110 or higher.

The Pirates are 18-22 (-3.2 net games) when the line is +125 to -125.

Key injuries


Players to watch

Nationals: Bell hit his fifth home run in 13 games on Friday. Since Aug. 29, the former All-Star is batting .292 with 11 RBI.

Pirates: Ke’Bryan Hayes extended his hitting streak to six games, where the Pirates are 4-2 in that stretch. He’s batting .417 with an on-base percentage of .423.

Projected lineup

Lane Thomas (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

Ke'Bryan Hayes (R) 3B
Kevin Newman (R) 2B
Bryan Reynolds (S) CF
Yoshi Tsutsugo (L) 1B
Jacob Stallings (R) C
Anthony Alford (R) LF
Ben Gamel (L) RF
Cole Tucker (S) SS
Bryse Wilson (R) P

Statistical leaders

Batting average: Juan Soto (.303)
Hits: Juan Soto (131)
Home runs: Josh Bell (26)
RBI: Juan Soto (82)
Stolen bases: Juan Soto (9)
Wins: Patrick Corbin (7)
Saves: Kyle Finnegan (8)
ERA: Patrick Corbin (6.14)

Batting average: Bryan Reynolds (.298)
Hits: Bryan Reynolds (148)
Home runs: Bryan Reynolds (22)
RBI: Bryan Reynolds (81)
Stolen bases: Gregory Polanco (14)
Wins: JT Brubaker (5)
Saves: Richard Rodriguez (14)

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

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