(Patrick Corbin photo courtesy Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)
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When and Where: Sunday, Sept. 1, Nationals Park, Washington D.C., 1:35 p.m. EDT.
Patrick Corbin looks to bounce back from a rare home loss in his first season with the Washington Nationals as the National League wild-card leaders complete a three-game series with the Miami Marlins.
Smith tries to stop the rot for Fish in series finale
Caleb Smith (8-8, 4.05 ERA) looks to have hit the wall as he enters this game with 122 1-3 innings pitched, 45 more than last season. The left-hander’s earned run average has climbed nearly two-thirds of a run over his last five starts, during which he is 1-4 with a 6.39 ERA.
Smith was reached for five runs and five hits — including two home runs — over 4 2-3 innings of an 8-5 Marlins loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Smith endured a 30-pitch first inning in which he fell behind 2-0 and it did not get much better during his 103-pitch outing as he also walked three.
“It’s hard to go deep in games when you throw 30 pitches in an inning,” Smith told the Marlins’ official website. “I threw 103 pitches in 4 2/3, that’s unacceptable.”
The southpaw has split two starts against the Nationals this year and was drilled in the nation’s capital in the most recent matchup, yielding five runs and five hits in three innings of a 9-6 defeat May 26.
Smith has served up nine gopher balls in his last six starts after allowing 16 over his first 16.
Corbin looks for run support in bounce-back start for Nats
Corbin (10-6, 3.15) has held opponents to two or fewer runs in all but one of his 13 starts at Nationals Park, but even that was not good enough to prevent a loss last time out.
The left-hander was on the short end of a 2-0 scoreline to Beltway rival Baltimore on Tuesday night, with the rare lack of offense spoiling a solid seven-inning outing in which Corbin fanned nine. He dropped to 6-2 at home despite a 1.83 ERA with 103 strikeouts in 88 2-3 innings.
“That’s why I think winning your division is so important,” Corbin told the Nationals’ official website, perhaps with an eye on the mercurial nature of the wild-card game. “If you got one game, anything can happen.”
Corbin has torn through Miami in three starts this year, winning two while conceding two runs in 23 innings and striking out 21. He was in line for a third victory July 2 after limiting the Marlins to one run and seven innings, but the bullpen squandered a lead in Washington’s eventual 3-2 victory.
The southpaw is 3-1 with a 3.15 ERA in nine lifetime starts versus Miami.
The Nationals are:
- 8-1 in Corbin’s last nine home starts.
- 7-2 in their last nine home games vs. left-handed starters.
- 6-0 in their last six games vs. left-handed starters.
The Marlins are:
- 0-5 in their last five road games vs. left-handed starters.
- 4-14 in their last 18 games vs. starters with a sub-1.15 WHIP.
- 2-7 in Smith’s last nine starts vs. above-.500 teams.
Nationals 2.5 runs (Even)
The decision to take the alternate line offered by PointsBet.com mainly comes down to Corbin’s dominance of the Marlins year and his sparkling home form. Washington has posted seven of its 12 victories over Miami this year by three or more runs and held the Marlins to one or no runs five times while recording three shutouts.
The other keys are Smith straining to produce results of late, and the Nationals showing Tuesday’s shutout loss in Corbin’s last start was a blip with seven runs in each of the first two games of this series.
Nationals -1.5 runs first 5 innings (Even)
Another alternate line courtesy of PointsBet.com, with Smith’s struggles as big a driver as Corbin’s form at home — the Nationals are 9-2-1 at the midway point in the southpaw’s 12 home starts. The Marlins have not only trailed after five innings in four of their left-hander’s last five starts, but the margin has been two or more in all four instances when trailing.
Miami is also 1-7 at the five-inning mark in its last eight road games, trailing by two or more on four occasions.
Nationals 3-way ML first 3 innings (-125)
A confident play in the Nationals, who have led after three frames in nine of their last 12 games (9-2-1) in part by scoring at least five runs in six of those contests. The Marlins have also fallen behind in the first three innings in 12 of their last 14 road games (1-12-1).
UNDER 9 runs (-121)
This is a case of relying on Corbin’s home form to thread a needle for this total given Smith’s recent struggles. The under is 10-1 in Corbin’s last 11 home starts at Nationals Park, and after removing Tuesday’s loss, Washington has averaged 7.88 runs in winning the other eight games.
The over has mirrored Smith’s struggles, going 5-1 in his last six starts overall, but the under has gone 3-1-2 in his last six outside Miami. The under also delivered in five of the last six games in the nation’s capital heading into Saturday night’s game. This line has ticked one-half run higher leading up to first pitch, and every little bit helps with taking the under in this instance.
Nationals’ Rendon to hit HR (+280)
Trying this pick for the second time in three games, with Rendon coming off a two-homer game Saturday and Smith struggling to keep the ball down of late. Rendon is hitting .394 (13 for 33) with four homers at home versus Miami this year, and Smith has served up 16 of his 25 homers on the road — giving up at least one in all but one of his 11 starts outside South Beach.
Rendon’s righty/lefty splits are not all that different, hitting .339 against southpaws and .335 overall, and he is averaging one homer per 13.1 at-bats against lefties compared to one per 15.4 versus righties.
OVER 5 runs first 5 innings (-121)
This is an anti-Smith pick coupled with Washington’s offense potentially doing all the lifting here. The over is 7-1-1 in the Marlins’ left-hander’s last nine starts against National League teams, and the Nats have scored five or more runs in the first five innings in six of their last 11 home games.