The Dodgers have been on a historic roll this MLB Regular Season, and despite the recent swoon Los Angeles is in, this versatile Roster is built two-deep at every position and manager Dave Roberts has a deep Pitching Staff. So can anyone stop one of the best squads in recent memory?
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been nothing short of incredible this season, and now it sort of seems the Dodger Blue wheels have sort of fallen off the truck. After losing again on Monday night at streaking Arizona (11-0), the Dodgers (+450 to win World Series, Intertops) are now a frightening 1-9 their L10 with their usually reliable Starting Pitchers having yielded an average of 8 ER over their L10 starts. Not good. Actually, very bad. Yes, Los Angeles has now lost 9 of 10 fellas, with a 1-0 Clayton Kershaw shutout at San Diego on Friday night the only winner in that span. So even with an MLB-best 52-17 Record at Home, and still (for now) tops in MLB Run Differential (+189, 668 RS-479 RA) and a Staff with Kershaw (W16 of L18 Starts), Yu Darvish and Alex Wood -- the Dodgers are No. 1 in opponents' Batting Average (.224), ERA (3.25) and WHIP (1.137) -- this team is in a major funk and it couldn’t come at a worse time. Best. Team. Ever? The. Jury. Is. Still. Out.
Los Angeles (2/3 to win NL, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook; opened 5/1) has already two, 10+ game Win Streaks, may have the two best 1B on the same Roster in decades with Rookie Cody Bellinger (Dodgers Rookie Record 36 HRs) and veteran Adrian Gonzalez, while Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Adrian Taylor, Yasmani Grandal and possible comeback Player of the Year Yasiel Puig are all having career years.
But there seem to be some teams the Dodgers (+23.7 Units, #1 MLB) would prefer not to face. And the way these four teams listed below are playing and the way the Postseason is looking to line up, nothing will come easy for anyone this time around with perhaps five to six teams honestly capable of winning the Fall Classic. Let’s take a look at four solid teams who can derail Los Angeles -- sorry Houston and Boston -- and why things don’t look so great for the Dodgers now like they did just two weeks ago. Turn and face the strange.
The defending World Series champion Cubs (+910 to win World Series, BookMaker) have turned it up a notch both Offensively and with their Starting Pitching of late and Kyle Hendricks and NL Central leaders Chicago (75-62) eliminated Los Doyers last year in the NLCS (4-2) with Jon Lester and Javier Báez sharing NLCS MVP honors as Chicago (103-58 in 2016) outscored NL West champions Los Angeles in the best-of-7 series, 31-15, victorious in the critical Games 4 and 5 on the Road at Chavez Ravine with the Dodgers (91-72 in 2016) leading the series, 2-1 after Game 3. So with that recent experience, Anthony Rizzo (31 HRs, 100 RBI) and the Cubs definitely now have the needed swagger to oust Los Angeles again, especially should Chicago’s current Momentum (7-3 L10) carry on into October and the Dodgers swoon (2-8 L10 into Monday) continue.
In this recent surge, Manager Joe Maddon and the Cubs (5/1 to win NL, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook; opened 3/2) have seen the Bats erupt and the Starting Pitching be absolutely out-of-this-world, with the best post-All-Star Break Winning Percentage in MLB history (24-7, .774 into Sunday) with Jake Arrieta (MLB-best 1.59 ERA since the All-Star Break), Lester (9-7), Hendricks (6-4), John Lackey (11-10) all showing how much they have matured in their careers although Arrieta (14-9) was totally rocked on Monday in a 12-0 loss at Pittsburgh and left the game after injuring his Right Hamstring.
Against Chase Utley and the Dodgers, the Cubs (692 RF-610 RA) are 2-4 this 2017 Regular Season and Chicago went 10-11 the L3 previous seasons (2014-2016) vs. LA. With Bonanza High School-product Kris Bryant (.406 OBP), Rizzo, Báez (21 HRs, 67 RBI), Kyle Schwarber (24 HR, 49 RBI), Ian Happ (21 HR, 53 RBI), Jon Jay and Jason Heyward all contributing at the plate and C Willson Contreras (21 HRs, 70 RBI) being one of the pleasant surprises on the Windy City’s North Side this Summer, this team could very well catch some breaks and win a second straight World Series. Winning games in a theoretical Postseason series at the Hotel California would be the key for the Cubs but after putting up 18 Runs in 2016 NLCS Games 4 and 5 combined (LA 2-CUBS 10, LA 4-CUBS 8) in Hollywood, banging the ball in the warm Southern California October air is something this Chicago lineup may actually enjoy.
Currently injured Bryce Harper (.326/29/87) and the NL East-leading Nationals (8/1 to win World Series, Bovada) have steadily built a Roster to try to get over the National League hump and into the World Series and Manager Dusty Baker has his best product ever in DC, with a bunch of powerful bats and a great Pitching Staff -- built exactly like the other MLB team which could leave the Dodgers feeling hollow after such a mathematically great season. With so many big bats like Ryan Zimmerman (30 HR, 91 RBI), Anthony Rendon (23 HR, 90 RBI), Daniel Murphy (150 Hits, 27 HR, 87 RBI) and Jayson Werth, among others, the Dodgers Pitching Staff would surely have its hands full with Washington (7/2 to win NL, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook; opened 5/1).
And the Nationals (83-54) have also got some great Starting Pitching in 2017 with dual aces Stephen Strasburg (11-4) and Max Scherzer (13-5) along with steady southpaw Gio Gonzalez (13-6), and this consistency on the mound has led to this team having the highest number of Quality Starts in MLB so far this season (88), the 4th-lowest WHIP (1.2), the 5th-lowest opponent’s Batting Average (.240) and the league’s 6th-best ERA (3.86), a true statistical testament to this underappreciated Staff and unheralded Pitching Coach Mike Maddux. Should the Nationals and Dodgers meet in the Postseason -- Los Angeles eliminated Washington, 3-2 in the best-of-5 NLDS in 2016 -- both teams would be playing 3 Time Zones and 2,668 miles away from Home in theoretical Postseason Road games with the Dodgers likely holding Homefield Advantage in La La Land with their great Record, although now slowly diminishing.
Head-to-head in 2017, Washington is 2-1 vs. LA and Matt Wieters the Nationals went 3-9 the previous two seasons (2014, 2015) against Los Angeles. The problem for the Dodgers here would be the Washington bats and potentially losing a theoretical Homefield Advantage by dropping either Game 1 or Game 2 (or both) to Washington at Chavez Ravine -- something that happened in last year’s NLDS for the Dodgers when they won Game 1 at Nationals Park, 4-3, to steal the Home-field edge with lefty Kershaw (of course) out-dueling Scherzer.
The Diamondbacks (8/1 to win World Series, Bovada) aren’t scared of these perceived world-beaters. No team had swept Los Angeles so far this Regular Season, but scorching-hot Arizona (W11 now) did a rain dance on Los Doyers cabezas recently, winning 7-6, 6-4 and 8-1 in games that seemed to absolutely take the heart out of the NL West leaders, who had added Yu Darvish (Rangers) and Curtis Granderson (Mets) to their already loaded Roster and who saw Adrian Gonzalez return from a long spell on the DL. Invincible Los Angeles would L5 straight, with the fourth Loss marking the first 4-game Losing Streak since May of last season. Even Superman sleeps.
Head-to-head, slugger Paul Goldschmidt (Top 5 in the NL in HR, RBI, OBP, OPS; Right Elbow injury, undergoing MRI Tuesday), Manager Torey Lovullo and Arizona are 9-8 against LA in 2017 after going an anemic 17-40 in 57 games against the Dodgers the L2 Regular Seasons (29.8%). Getting over the dreaded Dodgers Hump has always been a driving force for the Diamondbacks and still relatively new GM Mike Hazen is making great strides in the Sonora Desert.
JD Martinez (4 HRs vs. LAD Monday night, the Dodgers had 3 Hits total), Jake Lamb (27 HR, 97 RBI), Brandon Drury (11 HR, 56 RBI), Yasmany Tomás and the rest of the Diamondbacks (+18.5 Units, #2 MLB) have also been getting out to early leads and then holding them (good for First 5 Inning bettors), something great MLB teams learn to do, especially in the pivotal months of August, September and October.
Driven by the brutal memories of losing a Game 7 in the World Series to a team which hadn’t won an MLB championship in 108 years, the defending AL-champion Indians (8/1 to win World Series, Heritage) on Monday became the first MLB team to win 12 straight games this season to improve to 81-56 and in its previous 11 games, Cleveland outscored opponents 79-18 (OPS .975) with the Tribe Starters (AL-best 3.51 ERA) registering a remarkable 1.39 ERA over that span with the Bullpen posting a 2.25 ERA. And only a fool wouldn’t be backing Cleveland on Tuesday in Game 2 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago against the Pale Hose. (CLE -259, 9½u -115, Pinnacle). Like they did about this time last Regular Season, Manager Terry Francona has this Indians (+181 RD) team really playing some great Baseball at the perfect time. And, like Arizona, Cleveland is winning so much that few are even noticing also how well the Cubs and Nationals are doing this late Summer.
With the electric twins Francisco Lindor (.271/26/70) and José Ramirez (13th Player in MLB History with 5 XBH on Sunday), Edwin Encarnacion (.252/32/82) and the always underrated non-guitar-playing-but-baseball-bat-wielding Carlos Santana (22 HR/73), this team can score Runs in bunches and Cleveland has also received some incredible Pitching through this recent stretch with Corey Kluber (14-4), Carlos Carrasco (13-6), Trevor Bauer (11-4) and Cody Allen (24 Saves) all stepping up.
Should the Dodgers get to the World Series, the best team from the AL would await them, and, sorry Boston and Houston fans, but Cleveland is driven, has the recent Playoff muscle memory, the valuable Momentum now a better Manager and much more reliable Pitching than do the Red Sox or Astros in the Junior Circuit. And less Doubt. When handicapping, especially in Futures markets, “doubt” should be thought about heavily. Doubt matters. Houston and Boston will doubt they can win the AL Pennant. Cleveland knows it can win the AL and is sending a signal to others loud and clear. The Tribe are a team you don’t want to have to play now.
DODGERS FADE FUTURES PICKS: Diamondbacks to win NL 12/1, Indians to win World Series 8/1