Cubs vs Nationals Picks and Predictions: Home Is Where the Hurt Is

Day baseball in the Nation's Capitol as the Cubs face the Nats after an extra-innings showdown on Tuesday. Drew Smyly has performed admirably on the road of late and he should give Chicago the edge against rookie righty Cory Abbott.

Last Updated: Aug 17, 2022 8:50 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Drew Smyly Chicago Cubs MLB
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs needed extra innings Tuesday night to get past a pesky Nationals side and knot their season-ending series 3-2. Patrick Wisdom knocked in the winning run in the top of the 11th to avoid a second consecutive loss to Washington.

Cubs starter Drew Smyly is 9-1 over his last ten starts when pitching as the away favorite. Can he continue his dominant form and snatch a series away from the Nats? Find out in our free MLB picks and predictions for August 17, 2022.

Cubs vs Nationals odds

This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.

Chicago opened at -130 and that number has moved as high as -145 (FanDuel). The total opened at nine runs and is 9.5 in a couple of Vegas shops as of this writing. 

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until first pitch and be sure to check out the full MLB odds before placing your bets.

Cubs vs Nationals predictions

Picks made on 8/16/2022 at 11:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.

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Cubs vs Nationals game info

Location: Nationals Park, Washington, DC
Date: Wednesday, August 17, 2022
First pitch: 1:05 p.m. ET
TV: MARQ, MASN

Cubs vs Nationals betting preview

Starting pitchers

Drew Smyly (5-6, 3.69 ERA): Smyly hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last two starts and has only surrendered nine total runs over his last five trips to the hill. Smyly boasts a 4.25 xERA with a 4.12 xFIP this season, and his 3.88 away xFIP could mean positive regression for the southpaw. 

Cory Abbott (0-2, 5.94 ERA): Washington is 1-1 when Abbot starts a ballgame as the underdog, and he’s allowed 11 earned runs over his last 15.2 frames, but four earned runs over his dozen innings on the mound at Nationals Park. Abbott has a solid 3.77 xERA and below average 6.46 xFIP overall, but does have a slightly lower home xFIP (5.19). Basically, the young righty is more lucky than good. 

Weather

Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our MLB weather info.

Key injuries

Find our latest MLB injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Cubs are 7-2 in their last 9 games vs. a starter with a WHIP greater than 1.30. Find more MLB betting trends for Cubs vs. Nationals

Cubs vs Nationals picks and predictions

Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.

Moneyline analysis

The Cubs moneyline is likely the best play on the board. 

Chicago has an opportunity to not only win this set but its season series vs. Washington as well, and there's no better chance of that than with Smyly toeing the slab. He’s delivered this season as a road favorite and has come up big on the road over his career despite a middling ERA away from home (33-23, 4.09).

Smyly’s posted a 3-1 record with seven earned runs over 28 1-3 innings pitched during day games. The 11 2-3 scoreless innings he’s pitched over his last two starts, 42.5% ground-ball rate, and his 3.80 xFIP point to a distinct edge. 

Washington might not win many games, but they can hit and score runs, with a slash line of .262/.311/.400 during the month of August — so even without Josh Bell and Juan Soto. However, the Nationals are striking out a bit more than their season totals — particularly vs. lefties (29.5% strikeout rate in August) — and Smyly could get a couple of extra free outs as a result.

The sample size is small, but Abbott doesn’t pitch well during the day (9.87 ERA) and his home ERA (2.77) being significantly lower than his xFIP (5.19) doesn’t bode well for the Nationals righty. Chicago is built for afternoon play, slashing .247/.321/.405 in day games, and faces a Washington side with a 15-30 daytime record.

Finally, the Chicago bullpen is slightly better with a lower team ERA (4.02) than Washington (4.32) and the Nats have a losing home record. It won’t be pretty, but the Cubs get the job done Wednesday. 

Prediction: Cubs moneyline (-135 at WynnBET)

Over/Under analysis

The Over is your play here.

Smyly has allowed four or more runs four times this year, and three of those were in away games. The crafty lefty has been perfect over his last two starts but faces an offense that hacks away with a solid slash line against southpaws. 

Abbott serves up a 67% fly-ball rate with an 11% barrel rate, and that won’t get the job done in the major leagues. It also explains the 2.7 bombs per nine frames he’s allowed this season. 

Neither starting pitcher goes deep into ballgames and will turn things over to two very bad bullpens who’ve both thrown a ton of pitches over the last five days. The Cubs bullpen has the better ERA of the two (4.02) and the sides have combined for 31 blown saves over 77 opportunities this season. 

Finally, the Over is 6-1 in their last seven meetings, and I see no reason to buck that trend on Wednesday. 

Prediction: Over 9 (-104 at Pinnacle)

Best bet

Take the Cubs on the moneyline as the best bet for this matchup.

Smyly is 2-0 with the Cubs and 9-1 through his last 10 starts as the away favorite. His day/night splits (3-1, 2.20) with 18 strikeouts over 28.1 frames pitched indicates his scoreless innings streak could continue on Wednesday against the Nationals offense.

Finally, Abbott has struggled and he could have some trouble with a Cubs offense led by the red-hot Nico Hoerner. The Nationals bullpen isn’t much better, they don’t win very often at Nationals Park. The Cubs should win this game.

PickCubs moneyline (-135 at WynnBET)

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