Brewers at Nationals NL Wild Card Game Pick for October 1

By Taylor Smith in MLB on September 30, 2019

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Minute Read

The 2019 regular season has officially come and gone, which means it’s time for postseason baseball. MLB’s 10 best teams have advanced into the playoffs. The Wild Card Games will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday before Division Series action gets going on Thursday. The Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers have taken different paths to get here. They will both converge on the nation’s capital on Tuesday night in the National League’s Wild Card Game. The winner will head to L.A. to take on the Dodgers starting on Thursday.

Max Scherzer will take the ball for Washington in the winner-take-all affair, while the Brewers will counter with Brandon Woodruff. The Nationals are -180 moneyline favorites in a game with a low 7 ½ over/under. Milwaukee can be had at +150 on the moneyline.

Betting Data Brewers Nationals
2019 Straight-Up 89-73 93-69
2019 Home 49-32 50-31
2019 Away 40-39 43-38
2019 ATR 81-81 91-71
2019 ATR Home 38-43 43-38
2019 ATR Away 43-38 48-33
2019 O/U 69-87-6 75-76-11
2019 O/U Home 35-44-2 41-35-5
2019 O/U Away 34-43-4 34-41-6

Another Cy Young for Mad Max? 

Scherzer has battled some injuries this season, but his overall numbers were stellar once again. Across 27 starts, Mad Max went 11-7 with a 2.92 ERA. His 35.1 percent strikeout rate was once again one of the best marks in all of baseball, as was his 2.93 SIERA. Scherzer endured some rocky starts early in the season, but in the grand scheme of things, those outings look more like blips on the radar than anything else. 

Scherzer allowed 18 home runs in those 27 games, which is right in line with his career average. He has always been a pitcher that will give up the occasional homer, but not enough to where it’s much of an issue. He started one game against the Brewers during the regular season. In that outing, the former Cy Young winner took a no-decision after allowing two runs on six hits in six innings of work. He also struck out 10 on 112 pitches. 

He’ll be going up against a Brewers lineup that will be missing at least one huge bat. Christian Yelich was lost for the season earlier this month after fouling a ball off his kneecap, which caused a fracture. There’s a decent chance Milwaukee will also be without Lorenzo Cain, who has been battling a nagging leg injury of his own all season long. Cain has still been playing through the issue for most of the season. But, a collision with Rockies catcher Tony Wolters in Saturday’s game appeared to injury the leg even further. 

Cain was optimistic after the game that he would be able to return, but he was out of the lineup on Sunday. His status for the Wild Card Game is currently unknown, but his absence would be a big one for the Brewers. 

Woodruff’s Return

Brandon Woodruff certainly doesn’t have the name recognition that Scherzer does, but it won’t be long until he’s known as one of the better pitchers in the National League. The 26-year-old right-hander quietly put up stellar numbers this season, though his campaign has unfortunately also been marred by some injuries. Woodruff has gone 11-3 in 22 starts for Milwaukee with a 3.62 ERA. His 3.36 xFIP and 3.60 SIERA validate that impressive ERA, as well.

Woodruff had a 29 percent strikeout rate during the regular season along with with a walk rate just over 6 percent. He induced ground balls at a 44.6 percent clip while also allowing only 12 balls to leave the yard.

However, he just returned earlier this month from the oblique injury that forced him to miss two months of action. Woodruff has made two appearances since his return, and he has thrown 37 and 38 pitches in those games, respectively. While he’s a stellar pitcher based on the numbers, it’s clear that Woodruff isn’t stretched out enough to pitch all that deep into the Wild Card Game. Manager Craig Counsell lifted him from both of his previous outings after just two innings of work. 

While Woodruff having a bit of a longer leash in a do-or-die game like this wouldn’t be a surprise, I have serious doubts about the likelihood that he throws more than 50 pitches, maximum. That means we’re going to get a cavalcade of Milwaukee relievers coming in behind him. We saw last October that Counsell isn’t afraid to play matchups with his bullpen, and it seems as though we’ll be seeing plenty of that on Tuesday night.

Drew Pomeranz, Freddy Peralta, and Josh Hader seem like candidates that will very likely take the mound for Milwaukee after Woodruff comes out of the game. 

The Pick

Scherzer has yet to win a World Series during his illustrious career, but it’s still incredibly difficult to pick against the team that has one of the best pitchers in the history of the game on the mound. The 35-year-old has shown absolutely no signs of slowing down at all, and I expect him to take the ball and pitch as deep into this game as he possibly can.

That’ll be necessary for a Nationals team that has one of the worst bullpens in baseball. While the relief corps is a strength for the Brewers, the same can’t be said about the Nats. Washington’s bullpen finished the regular season with a 5.68 ERA, which was the second-highest mark of any team in the league this season. It is also the highest ERA for a bullpen that reached the playoffs in the history of baseball. So, if Scherzer struggles or gets taken out of the game earlier than expected, this could be a long night for Dave Martinez and co. 

That said, I think the likelihood of Scherzer pitching well outweighs the chances of a blow-up outing. I like the Nationals in this one, and I believe they are just the better team all around. Washington has one of the most potent lineups in baseball, while the Brewers are without their best hitter. It just looks like an overall mismatch on paper. Anything can happen throughout one baseball game, but I like Washington at home in this one. 

According to baseball betting sites, betting on the Nationals at -180 doesn’t come with a ton of value, but I don’t mind picking them to cover the 1 ½ runline at +110. They have more than enough firepower to give Scherzer an early lead here, and they shouldn’t look back. 

Pick: Nationals -1 ½
+110

$100 could win you

$210
Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with Panoramacity since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, but he’s willing to take one for the team on that front every now and then.

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