MLB Weekend Preview: Pirates at Nationals

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April 12th, 2019

The Pittsburgh Pirates (6-5) and Washington Nationals (6-5) will meet in our nation’s capital this weekend for a three-game series.

Game 1, Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET

Trevor Williams (1-0, 2.25 ERA) (PIT) +155 / +1.5 runs (-140) / Over eight runs (-120) Patrick Corbin (0-0, 3.75 ERA) (WSH) -175 / -1.5 runs (+120) / Under eight runs (EVEN)

Trevor Williams will try to build on a solid first two starts for Pittsburgh, while Washington's $140 million offseason signing, Patrick Corbin, will seek his first win.

Williams was 1-1 with a 2.58 ERA in two outings against the Nationals last year, but Washington's bats are on fire heading into this series. They've scored double-digit runs in three of their last four games. Third baseman Anthony Rendon has a .429 average through 42 at-bats, and he's not just slapping singles, as he owns a 1.371 OPS.

Corbin limited Pittsburgh's hitters to a .217 average in 12.1 innings last season (two starts) and produced a strikeout/walk ratio of 5.67. Center fielder Starling Marte has the most experience of any Pirate against the southpaw from Clay, N.Y., going 4-for-14 lifetime. Corbin has been on a tight leash so far this season, throwing 94 and 86 pitches, respectively, in his first two starts of 2019.

Considering how bad Dave Martinez's bullpen has been through 11 games (7.79 ERA, the worst in baseball), bettors should expect Corbin to pitch deep into this one to help the Nationals take the series opener.

MLB Free Play: Nationals runline

Game 2, Saturday, 4:05 p.m. ET

Staff aces will battle it out in what should be a low-scoring affair, as Chris Archer (1-0, 2.45 ERA) takes the hill against Max Scherzer (1-2, 3.32 ERA).

Archer is appealing his five-game suspension from a bench-clearing incident with the Reds on Sunday, which is why he's still in the rotation. The former Tampa Bay Ray has little experience against longtime Nationals like Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman, so the advantage seemingly rests with him. Only Adam Eaton has meaningful positive numbers against Archer, going 5-for-12.

Scherzer is not expected to miss this start despite some soreness in his right leg. In his previous three outings against Pittsburgh, he's 1-0 with a .169 batting average against.

Game 3, Sunday, 1:35 p.m. ET

Assuming Sunday's forecasted rain stays away, Jameson Taillon (0-2, 3.00 ERA) will make his first start since he took a line drive to the head early in Monday's game against the Cubs. Countering for Washington will be Anibal Sanchez (0-1, 6.52 ERA).

Taillon has been moderately effective against Washington in the past (0-1, 3.50 ERA in three starts) but has yet to face uber-prospects Juan Soto and Victor Robles, both of whom carry an OPS above .900 going into the weekend.

Sanchez has struggled in day games since 2016, going 7-12 (36 appearances, 28 starts) with a 5.30 ERA. Look for both bullpens to get involved early.