Washington Nationals Odds: Back or Fade World Series Longshot?
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The Washington Nationals finished fourth in the National League East and missed the expanded 2020 MLB Playoffs. But the year before, they won the World Series.
So, which Nationals team shows up in 2021? And is that a team worth including in your MLB futures bets for the upcoming season? Let’s break down the Nats, and whether their World Series odds are too high, too low or just right.
Washington Nationals Odds
|Win World Series||+3500||BetMGM|
|Win NL Pennant||+2000||PointsBet|
|Win NL East||+600||DraftKings|
MLB odds current as of publication but subject to change
Nationals World Series Odds
Those current odds put Washington in a tie for the 16th lowest World Series odds, and tied for the ninth-lowest in the 15-team National League, along with the Cubs and Phillies.
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Reasons To Back The Nationals
Back To 162: The abbreviated 2020 wasn’t kind to Washington, but it wasn’t unexpected. In a season in which relievers were as important as ever, the starter-strong Nationals were at a disadvantage. Now we’re back to a 162-game season. Max Scherzer anchors a rotation that has added Jon Lester and gets back Stephen Strasburg, who had just two starts in 2020 after an 18-6 season in ’19. Patrick Corbin went 2-7 after going 14-7 the year prior.
With a 26-34 record, it was the first time since the 2011 season the Nationals finished below .500. They’ll welcome the six-month grind over the two-month sprint.
Batting Reinforcements: Top hitter Anthony Rendon left after the World Series win to sign a megadeal with the Angels. The offense ranked 10th in scoring and 21st in home runs in 2020, just a year after being sixth/13th. But the team shrewdly bolstered its lineup, adding a pair of players (Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber) who struggled in the short 2020 season but held powerhouse bats in 2019.
Juan Soto is a star in the middle of the order and Trae Turner has emerged as one of the game’s top leadoff hitters. If the Nationals get production from Starlin Castro (returning from a broken wrist), and 23-year-old Carter Kieboom begins showing his potential, Washington’s offense will be among the best in the NL.
Reasons to Fade The Nationals
NL East Gauntlet: When it comes to strength of schedule, Washington doesn’t get off easy. The NL East is stacked: the Braves have the third-lowest World Series odds (+900), the Mets (+1200) aren’t far behind following a stellar offseason. The Phillies (+3500) are even with the Nats, with the Marlins – a playoff team in 2020 – at the back of the pack.
Bullpen Issues: Cleveland closer Brad Hand comes in to take the closer duties, immediately improving one of MLB’s bottom bullpens. It’s still a considerable weakness. Last season’s closer, Daniel Hudson, is now the setup man. He posted a 6.10 ERA in 21 games last year. Jeremy Jeffress could be a stealthy signee after posting a 1.54 ERA for the Cubs last year and a 1.29 ERA in 73 spots in 2018 with the Brewers. It’s still a below-average unit with a below-average ceiling.
The Nationals might have a top-tier starting rotation. That’s a good place to start. But can they rely on Scherzer (age 36) and Strasburg (32 with a plethora of health issues) and Lester (historically reliable but 37) to take the ball every five days? If not, there might not be enough depth on the roster to stay in the hunt in a full season – even with a batting order that has the potential to be better.
But here’s the biggest issue: The Nationals could have a solid season, remain healthy and competitive and win a fair share of games – and still finish fourth in their own division.
And that’s just the NL East. The Dodgers and Padres likely await in the postseason.
If the Nats can make the playoffs and pitching remains steady, they can make a run. However, after MLB’s expansion to a 16-team playoff format in 2020, it is reverting back to 10 teams. The Nats, Braves and Mets might be fighting for one spot, two at the most. Odds aren’t low enough.