It’s been a perfect start for the Tampa Bay Rays (4-0), while the Washington Nationals (1-3) are meeting their low expectations so far. There is plenty of the 2023 MLB season left, so those records aren’t worth stressing about right now.
Tampa’s start has come on the strength of fantastic pitching, only allowing five runs through their first four contests. Their offense has also been productive, leading to four easy wins. The Rays’ schedule has been favorable, but they still deserve credit for taking advantage of it.
Washington’s 1-3 start can also be pinned on the schedule, as they opened with two of 2022’s postseason teams. Still, their offense has been lifeless through their first handful of games, despite playing in their home park. They’ve gotten solid pitching, so the offense needs to pick it up.
The Rays took the first game of this series 6-2. Let’s see if the Rays vs. Nationals round two will look different.
Fixture: Tampa Bay Rays @ Washington Nationals
Date and Time: Tuesday, April 4, 7:05 p.m. EST
Venue: Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
Rays vs. Nationals: Betting Odds
|Team||Run Line||Total||Money Line|
|Rays||-1.5 (-115)||Over 9.0 (-105)||-170|
|Nationals||+1.5 (-105)||Under 9.0 (-115)||+145|
Rays vs. Nationals: Starting Pitchers
Tampa’s starting pitcher tonight is lined up to be Josh Fleming. In 2022, he finished with a -1.5 WAR in only 10 pitching appearances. His WHIP was 1.89, and his ERA was 6.43, both career-worst. He’s faced three batters on the Nationals’ roster and hasn’t allowed a hit to any of them.
Washington’s projected starter is Chad Kuhl, set to make his first appearance as a member of the Nationals. He spent last season with the Colorado Rockies, finishing with the worst WHIP and ERA of his career. Playing in Denver played a part, as Coors Field is unforgiving to pitchers. Manuel Margot is the only Rays batter he’s faced before, and he’s held Margot to 0-4.
So far, the Rays’ pitching staff has been the best in the MLB. They’re first in ERA at 1.00 while also ranking first in hits allowed (18), second in walks issued (7) and third in home runs allowed (2). Paired with an offense that’s fifth in run production, it’s no wonder they’re 4-0.
Washington batters have only touched the plate nine times, the second-fewest runs scored in the majors. The Nationals are last in slugging percentage and 27th in on-base percentage. They’re among the few teams that haven’t stolen a base yet, although the rule changes are making it easier.
Rays vs. Nationals: Betting Prediction
There’s not much Tampa could have done better to this point, but good times don’t last forever in baseball. Josh Fleming was miserable in 2022 and will allow the Nationals’ offense to put runs on the board tonight. Of course, the Rays shouldn’t have any issues scoring against Chad Kuhl or Washington’s bullpen. This is a game that the Nationals should have a chance in, and the Rays have to lose eventually. Take the Nationals to win at home tonight.