Mets vs Nationals Opening Day

Mets vs Nationals Opening Day | 2021 MLB Expert Analysis

Written by on March 29, 2021

Thursday is Opening Day around Major League Baseball and the marquee pitching matchup without question is when the Mets and Jacob deGrom visit the Washington Nationals and Max Scherzer. Those two combined to win four of the previous five NL Cy Young Awards. The Nats should be slight home favorites on the MLB odds with a miniscule total.

How to Bet Mets at Nationals MLB Odds & TV Info
  • When: Thursday, 7 PM ET
  • Where: Nationals Park
  • Probable pitchers (away/home): Jacob deGrom/Max Scherzer
  • TV: ESPN
  • Stream/gameday audio: ESPN app
  • Opening MLB Lines: TBA (Nats should be slight favorites with a total of likely 6.5)
Why Bet on NY Mets? | 2021 MLB Expert Analysis

The Mets made the biggest trade of the offseason in landing All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor from the Cleveland Indians (and pitcher Carlos Carrasco). Lindor, 27, is one of MLB’s most talented shortstops and among the brightest young stars in the sport. He’s a .285 career hitter with an .833 OPS over six seasons with the Indians. He also has won two Gold Gloves and as many Silver Sluggers. Since the start of his career in 2015 Lindor’s WAR of 28.7 ranks sixth among MLB position players over that span.

Lindor is set for free agency after this season and has said he will not talk long-term extension with the Mets once the season begins so it will be very interesting to see if the sides can get something done this week. It’s probably going to take at least $300 million – the Indians couldn’t afford that so that’s why they dealt Lindor. Mets owner Steve Cohen and Lindor got together for dinner on Saturday night.

Mets manager Luis Rojas told reporters that he expects infielder Jonathan Villar (groin) to be “OK” for the start of the regular season. Villar has been diagnosed with a minor groin injury. Villar split last season between Miami and Toronto, which acquired him in a trade at the Aug. 31 trade deadline. He batted .232 with two homers and 15 RBIs in 185 at-bats. He will mostly serve as depth behind Lindor and second baseman Jeff McNeil.

It’s two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom on the mound for the Mets. DeGrom will make his third straight Opening Day start. He Johan Santana (2008-2010) and Dwight Gooden (four straight (1988-1991) and Tom Seaver who made 10 consecutive Opening Day starts (1967-1977) as the only pitchers in team history to make three straight Opening Day starts.

DeGrom has been typically great this spring. Last season, deGrom ended with a 2.38 ERA and finished third in the NL Cy Young Award voting after winning it the previous two years.  The 32-year-old righty has recorded a 2.10 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 628/108 K/BB ratio over 489 innings (76 starts) over the last three seasons.

Why Bet on Washington? | 2021 MLB Expert Analysis

In a minor surprise, the Nats have sent down third baseman and top prospect Carter Kieboom. There’s been hope that he was the third-base heir to Anthony Rendon’s vacated hot corner throne in D.C. In 11 games in 2019, Kieboom hit .128 with 16 strikeouts in 39 at-bats. He got 33 games last season and hit .202/.344/.212. He’s done nothing in the spring. Kieboom is still only 23.

Washington beefed up the lineup this offseason with the additions of Kyle Schwarber and Josh Bell. Washington missed the playoffs in 2020 after winning the World Series the year before and desperately needed to upgrade its lineup to provide some protection for Juan Soto.

Bell, 28, was an All-Star in 2019, hitting 37 home runs with 116 RBI. He struggled in the shortened 2020 campaign batting .226 with eight home runs and 22 RBI but averaged 25 home runs, 89 RBI and an .836 OPS the prior three seasons.

Schwarber was non-tendered by the Cubs this offseason after six seasons with the club. When he became a free agent, being reunited with Nationals manager Dave Martinez — who previously worked on Chicago’s coaching staff — was a draw. He described Washington as his “No. 1 choice.”

In 2020, his age-27 season, Schwarber hit 11 home runs in 59 games, but he batted just .188. He will look to return to his ’19 form; that season, he slashed .250/.339/.531 with an .871 OPS and a team-high 38 homers.

It’s three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer on the mound. The 36-year-old veteran righty wasn’t as dominant as usual during the shortened 2020 campaign, compiling a 3.74 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 92/23 K/BB ratio across 67 1/3 innings (12 starts). This will be his sixth Opening Day start while a member of the Nationals.

Expert Prediction
  • Nationals 4, Mets 3

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