The Milwaukee Brewers look to even their series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Should you still bet on the best sports betting sites for the Dodgers?
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Thursday, October 1, 2020 – 10 P.M. ET at Dodger Stadium
Brandon Woodruff’s Misleading ERA
One may see Milwaukee starter Brandon Woodruff’s regular-season ERA (3.05) and feel inclined to either bet on him or on the "under" with our MLB Picks. His FIP (like ERA, but factors out fielding) was even, likewise, very good. So, I am not denying that he performed well.
The key is that the level of competition that he pitched against does not justify optimism in him today. In the 13 different starts that he made in 2020, he pitched in only one start against a lineup that ranked top-19 in runs per game.
This fact may seem incredible. But it is true: he pitched many times against the likes of Cincinnati, which ranks 28th in runs per game, Pittsburgh, which ranks last-place in the category, and so forth.
There are some things that make Woodruff more vulnerable to tougher lineups. For starters, pitching charts show that he tends to use only half of the plate. He rarely elevates his pitches. Interestingly, even this year against softer competition his pitches, in the middle parts of the strike zone, got slammed with higher slugging rates.
So, between half-wanting to avoid the middle part of the plate and mostly avoiding the upper regions of the zone, there isn’t much margin of error for Woodruff in terms of where he locates his pitches in the strike zone.
Woodruff vs. Dodger Batters
Now, he could and does try to induce batters to swing at pitches outside of the strike zone. In fact, attempting to do just this forms a significant part of his strategy, which is why he only keeps 44 percent of his pitches in the strike zone.
However, the Dodgers are the most immune team to this kind of pitcher. As measured by the fact that they swing at the lowest percentage of pitches outside of the strike zone, the Dodgers own the best plate discipline in all of Major League Baseball.
More than any other lineup, they will compel Woodruff to focus his pitches in the uniquely limited regions of the strike zone in which he’s relatively comfortable. Woodruff has two primary pitches, his fastball, and sinker. He throws them with a combined 65 percent frequency.
L.A. batters match up well with him because they rank second in slugging against these two pitches combined from righties. So they will hit him well no matter where he locates his strikes.
They only have 22 collective at-bats against him. But given this match-up detail, their numbers (.364 BA and .864 slugging) are promising. Look out for Corey Seager, for example. He’s 2-for-3 with two doubles in his career against Woodruff.
Clayton Kershaw In The Postseason
Like Woodruff, Kershaw may seem appealing. But he seems so for specious reasons. While his regular-season ERA is great, he has built a notorious history of playoff failures.
Last year, for example, his regular-season ERA was 3.03. But then his playoff ERA was 4.20. In his career, his playoff ERA is 4.43, which is 2.00 higher than his career regular-season ERA.
One reason why Kershaw looks vulnerable is his higher tendency to leave pitches down the middle. This tendency is another way of saying that he makes too many mistakes in terms of location.
So even in the 2020 regular season, he allowed 1.23 home runs per nine innings, which is one of the higher home run rates that he’s allowed in his career. He’s also allowed a combined total of five home runs in his last three playoff outings.
Kershaw vs. Milwaukee Batters
Of course, Kershaw doesn’t flop in every single playoff outing. So why am I particularly confident in Brewer batters today? They have had plenty of exposure to Kershaw in their careers and also plenty of success. In 105 at-bats, they hit .305 and slug .486 against him.
These numbers are so high despite the fact that Jedd Gyorko accounts for 21 of those at-bats but only three of their hits. Look for Avisail Garcia to perform well today. He’s 4-for-4 with a double in his career facing Kershaw.
The MLB Odds respect Kershaw and Woodruff for the former’s name and for both of their regular-season prowess. But their total will be too low today. Be sure to invest at top sportsbooks in a high-scoring first five innings for the above reasons.