The Dodgers & Cardinals are both division leaders in the NL. They begin a weekend series in St. Louis which should garner a lot of national attention. Who’ll cash on the MLB odds in game 1?
The Los Angeles Dodgers Can Win Because…
They have a white-hot starting pitcher on the mound. The story of Mike Bolsinger might not yet be national news, but it’s going in that direction and will acquire critical mass if Bolsinger continues to pitch the way he’s been pitching of late. Bolsinger has made only four starts, and after failing to go six complete innings in his first two starts, it was easy to dismiss him as a spot starter who could contain an opposing team three times through the order, but couldn’t eat up a lot of innings. Bolsinger was effective in those first two starts, but he didn’t give the impression that he was a stopper, a guy who could take the ball and dominate deep into a game. Well, in his last two starts, especially his most recent one, Bolsinger has become an even tougher customer on the mound. He went six complete innings on May 17 against Colorado, shutting out the Rockies on just three hits. Then, on May 23 against the San Diego Padres, Bolsinger went eight innings and gave up only one hit. He blanked the Padres and made them look very bad at the plate. Bolsinger did not issue a single walk, and he struck out eight. He got 10 ground-ball outs, blunting the Padres’ bats at every turn. He was essentially flawless. Bolsinger just gets better and better – he’s becoming harder for hitters to hit, not easier.
What should also help the Dodgers here is that St. Louis will be missing slugger Matt Adams for at least three months if not the remainder of the whole season. “Big Mayo” was a vital part of the Cardinals the past few seasons. Relative to the Dodgers, Adams was the guy whose three-run homer off Clayton Kershaw in the seventh inning gave St. Louis a win in Game 4 of last year’s National League Division Series, which clinched St. Louis’ place in its fourth straight National League Championship Series. With Adams out, the Cardinals lose a huge bat, and Bolsinger can now operate with less worry. His 0.71 ERA might not budge very much.
The St. Louis Cardinals Can Win Because…
They have a pitcher who is savvy and consistent. The Cardinals’ John Lackey doesn’t have Bolsinger’s tiny ERA, but he is a proven and steady pitcher who knows his way around a batting order. Lackey could certainly hold down a Dodger team whose bats have come and gone this season, getting shut out in three straight games at an earlier point in the year. Lackey’s ERA is a perfectly respectable 3.18, and in his last five starts, he’s allowed more than two runs only once.
Lackey is a solid pitcher who inspires confidence. Bolsinger, though, is unconscious, and until proven otherwise, he should be expected to do really well. With Matt Adams, that figures to take a bite out of the offense in this contest. Overall, I’m expecting a low scoring affair here, which is why I'll take the Under as my MLB pick.
MLB Pick: Under 8 at Bovada