What's the best MLB pick for today's matchup in LA? The Braves are hovering around the .500 mark, while the Dodgers are set to establish a strong playoff position through nearly two full months of play.
The Atlanta Braves Can Win Because…
They have a pitcher who, if given better support by his bullpen, can win this game, despite the pitching matchup in front of him. Alex Wood has an ERA of 3.83, but he’s been pitching better than that in his last two starts. He gave up three runs in 6 2/3 innings on May 10 against Washington, and then he gave up just two runs, only one earned, in seven innings on May 16 against Miami. Wood struggled a month ago at the very end of April, but for the most part, a representative start for him has been 6 2/3 innings and three runs allowed. That’s the kind of start which, if supplemented by quality bullpen work, gets a 4-3 or 5-3 win. The problem for Wood is that in a number of those starts, the Atlanta bullpen couldn’t hold the opposition at three runs. On April 18 against Toronto, the Braves allowed three more runs after a solid start by Wood and lost, 6-5. On May 10, the Braves’ pen allowed two more runs to Washington in a 5-4 loss. Wood’s three runs would have won the game if the bullpen had been able to pitch 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
You might be sitting here thinking that Atlanta doesn’t have a great pen, and that’s not a reason the Braves could win. Point conceded, but the larger argument to make is that Alex Wood can go toe-to-toe with Zack Greinke of the Dodgers. This is not nearly as lopsided a pitching matchup as you might think. Moreover, the Dodgers have not been hitting the ball very well for most of the past week. They got shut out three times by the Giants a week ago and then muddled through a couple of low-scoring games in a weekend series against the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers can go through cold spells, and that’s another reason why Atlanta can steal this.
The Los Angeles Dodgers Can Win Because…
These massive favorites in MLB odds have the vastly superior team, several games better in the standings, and they have the vastly superior starting pitcher. Zack Greinke has a tiny 1.48 ERA. He’s given up more than one run in only two of his nine starts this season, and those two starts witnessed only three runs allowed in at least six innings. Greinke has therefore produced nine quality starts in nine trips to the mound – he’s a perfect 9 for 9 in terms of getting a quality start in 2015. With that kind of consistency, and having allowed just three earned runs in his last 28 innings, you have to trust him against Wood and Atlanta.
Wood is consistently improving and when you remove the one bad outing, he’s given up just eight earned runs in 24 innings of work. However, he’s not worth a bet here because the Braves don’t support him with much offense (3.3 runs per game over his last seven starts) and they’re up against Greinke. Instead, go with the under for your MLB pick in this one.
MLB Pick: Under at Bovada