The state of optimism surrounding the Braves and Nationals are in two completely different directions heading into the 2023 season. Atlanta has World Series aspirations, while the Nationals will be out to avoid the worst record in baseball. We’ll preview the NL East matchup before reviewing my best prop play for the action.
After finishing last year with the worst season of his career, Patrick Corbin will take the ball for the Nationals today as their opening-day starter. The left-hander was 6-19 with a 6.31 ERA last season, and in his four starts against the Braves, he went 0-3. Corbin’s second start of the year last season came against Atlanta, and he only lasted 2 ⅔ innings while allowing six earned runs, so it’s safe to say the Braves may have his number.
Despite being in the midst of a rebuild, the Nationals lineup is primarily veteran guys aside from Luis Garcia, Keibert Ruiz, and C.J. Abrams. The heart of the Nats lineup will be made up of Dominic Smith, Joey Meneses, and Corey Dickerson. There is no denying the raw power that sits in the middle of the order, which bodes well for a Washington team that was in the bottom five of the league in hard-hit percentage.
The Nationals line-up is set to face Max Fried today, as the lefty is coming off a 14-7 season with 170 strikeouts. In 14 ⅓ Spring Training innings, Fried showed why he’s at the front of this strong pitching staff, as he allowed just six hits and no earned runs while racking up 19 strikeouts. In three starts against the Nationals last season, he went 2-1 with 14 strikeouts and nine earned runs allowed.
In terms of their lineup, it’s scary to think that they improved this offseason, but with the addition of Sean Murphy, there is denying the Braves are stacked from top to bottom. With a healthy Ronald Acuna Jr. leading off, followed by guys like Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, and Michael Harris Jr., it wouldn’t be a surprise if the team finished in the top three in home runs again this season.
For my prop play in this one, I’ll be targeting Ozzie Albies over 1.5 total bases at (-105). No one in the Braves line-up has had more success against Patrick Corbin than Albies, as he is hitting .429 against him in 29 plate appearances. In those appearances, he has racked up three doubles and home runs to go along with one triple and five singles. There is seeing the ball well from certain pitchers, and then there is flat-out dominating a pitcher, and Albies fall into the dominate category with Corbin.
Patrick Corbin’s second most-thrown pitch in 2022 was his slider, and Albies has statistically shown he sees sliders exceptionally well. Just last season, Albies had a .292 batting average against sliders, so no matter what Corbin tries to establish today, the young star has a good chance at putting it in play.
Albies has shown a lot of success in general when playing in divisional games, as just last season, he hit .318 in NL East games with 88 plate appearances. I think the Braves will come out aggressive against Corbin today, and Albies will be right in the middle of it. Based on his previous numbers in this matchup as well, I think this is a great spot to target him.
Ozzie Albies Over 1.5 Total Bases (-105)