Nationals vs Cubs MLB Odds, Picks and Predictions May 19

Updated: May 19, 2021

The Washington Nationals will hand the ball to Max Scherzer on Wednesday night in an effort to stop the bleeding against the Chicago Cubs.

Chicago has won the first two contests of this four-game set at Wrigley Field, extending its win streak to three games and outscoring the Nats 13-6 in the back-to-back victories. But Scherzer will make life difficult for a Cubs team that counters with fellow former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. 

Can Scherzer get Washington back in the win column? Find out with our best free MLB betting picks and predictions for Nationals vs. Cubs on May 19, with first pitch in the Windy City scheduled for 7:40 p.m. ET.

Nationals vs Cubs game info

Location: Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
Date: Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Time: 7:40 p.m. ET
TV: MLB Network

Nationals vs Cubs odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

Compare MLB odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.

The line opened at Washington -136, with a total of 9.5. Early action has favored the Nationals, with money on the visitors driving the line to as high as -160 at some books, while the Over/Under hasn’t budged. Check back later for a full report from Patrick!

Check out the full line movement for this game

Nationals vs Cubs betting preview

Starting pitchers

Max Scherzer (3-2, 2.10 ERA): Scherzer has allowed one or zero runs in six of his eight starts and has failed to reach the six-inning mark only twice. He was held to five innings his last start but that’s because the Nationals took an 11-0 lead into the sixth inning in a game they would go on to win 17-2. Scherzer didn’t allow a run in that outing, surrendered two hits, and struck out seven.

Jake Arrieta (4-3, 4.10 ERA): The 35-year-old veteran has made one start since coming off the injured list with a thumb injury, going six innings while allowing two runs and four hits in a Cubs victory over the Detroit Tigers. He’s logged six-plus innings in four of his seven starts after doing so twice in nine outings last year and failing to reach that threshold over the final two months of the 2019 season. Though the once-dominant righty has only been lit up once this season, his peripheral numbers suggest we should expect the clunkers to start coming with more frequency.


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

Key injuries

Nationals: None.
Cubs: Alec Mills RP (Out), Jake Marisnick OF (Out), Rowan Wick RP (Out).
Find our latest MLB injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Nationals are 5-0 to the Under in Max Scherzer’s last five starts allowing five-plus runs in their previous game. Find more MLB betting trends for Nationals vs. Cubs.

Runline pick

Five-plus years ago, this would have been the pitching matchup of the year. While Arrieta has slipped hard from his peak seasons, Scherzer is still mowing down lineups at the age of 36. 

The Nats’ No. 1 arm enters Wednesday’s start with the lowest WHIP of his career at 0.76, the best strikeout-to-walk rate (8.5), a 2.10 ERA that’s a Top-10 mark in the National League, and continues to fan well over a batter per inning. He has struck out 35.8 percent of the hitters he’s faced this season, which is a level he has come close to touching but never reached before. 

There are so many good arms in a league that’s dominated by elite pitching, but Scherzer is still right there alongside the best of them. He’s a true ace and should go deep and have his way with a Cubs team that won’t have the luxury of facing another left-handed arm. 

Chicago punishes lefties and though the club has turned a corner and looks like a solid offensive unit altogether, the lineup performs better when it’s up against a southpaw. The Cubs go from seventh in the majors in wRC+ versus lefties to below league average with a right-hander on the bump. They just faced back-to-back LHPs, smacking Jon Lester and Patrick Corbin around for 16 hits and eight runs before sending them to the showers.

Scherzer, himself, has allowed just eight earned runs since his Opening Day start and should take advantage of a Cubs team that has a lot of swing-and-miss in its lineup. Oddsmakers expect this, too, with the moneyline continuing to trend up, moving from a -136 Nationals opening to as high as -160. We’d rather extract better value out of this matchup and feel comfortable taking the Nats on the runline behind Scherzer.

PREDICTION: Washington -1.5 (+105)

Covers MLB betting analysis

Over/Under pick

The first game of this series went Over, while last night’s was a push with nine total runs scored. The Cubs drove up the score in both games, limiting an inconsistent Nationals lineup that lacks power to three runs apiece in each contest. 

Washington predictably didn’t do much against hot Cubs starter Adbert Alzolay (outside of taking him deep twice) and then was held in check by Zach Davies, who has pitched better after a disastrous April. Both starters struggled, though, to putaway the Nats on strikes and it will be more of the same today for Arrieta. 

The Nats are one of the hardest teams to strike out in the majors and Arrieta simply doesn’t miss bats anymore. He only fanned one batter in his last start against the Tigers, who have the highest K rate in baseball. Though the Nats lack pop, Arrieta has allowed seven bombs over his last five starts and has a career-worst HR/9 rate.

While we expect the Nats to get to Arrieta, the Cubs do have a strong bullpen (second in MLB in K rate, fifth in ERA) to turn to after he departs. The group has already thrown eight scoreless innings this series and will face a Nats lineup that is one of six teams scoring fewer than 3.9 runs per game. And we’re of course expecting good pitching from the Nats side with Scherzer on the mound and not counting on the Cubs’ Kris Bryant-led offense to do much.

In other words, we’re confident the majors’ top Under team, the Nationals, will cash another today.

PREDICTION: Under 9.5 (-115)

Nationals vs Cubs betting card

  • Washington -1.5 (+105)
  • Under 9.5 (-115)

Picks made on 5/19/2021 at 10:37 a.m. ET

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