Cracks in Shields’ Armor Signal Safest Bet for Dodgers vs. Padres

David Lawrence

Sunday, June 14, 2015 12:30 PM GMT

The finale of this weekend series is the Padres' last chance to gain ground on the Dodgers in a home series for awhile. Can the Padres cash on the MLB betting lines? 

The Los Angeles Dodgers Can Win Because...
The Los Angeles Dodgers are still in first place in the National League West. LA is confident in the pitcher they have on the mound. Mike Bolsinger might have only 16 career starts to his credit at the big-league level and only seven this year, but keep in mind that Bolsinger is 27 years old. He knows how to pitch, and is showing it almost every time he goes out to the mound this year. Of Bolsinger's seven starts in 2015, six have allowed two runs or fewer. Bolsinger struggled only once, and that was a game at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies, a situation in which many pitchers have struggled over the years. Bolsinger has been excellent in every other situation he's faced so far. In his last start, he gave up just two runs on only three hits in seven innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He's allowed more than five hits in only two of his starts. Moreover, he's pitched against the Padres this season, and was dazzling against San Diego. On May 23, Bolsinger went eight strong innings versus the Padres, giving up no runs on just one solitary hit. He has to feel very confident as he takes the mound in this game, giving the Dodgers very solid odds of victory.

The other thing the Dodgers have to like about their chances in this game is that Yasiel Puig is back from the disabled list. He's gotten high-impact hits for this team, including one that powered an eighth-inning rally on Friday night against the Padres, leading to a 4-3 win for Los Angeles. With a physically fresh Puig in the batting order, giving opposing pitchers a lot to think about, the Dodgers should be in very good shape for this game.

Los Angeles is also facing San Diego starter James Shields at what seems to be a good time. Shields was roughed up for five runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings in his most recent start against the Atlanta Braves. He has been decent, but not great this season, carding a 3.79 ERA, which does not compare well at all to Bolsinger's ERA of 2.08. You have to give a considerable edge to the Dodgers in this game based on the pitching matchups.

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The San Diego Padres Can Win Because...
The San Diego Padres want to make a fierce and sustained run at the Dodgers in the division. James Shields did well in his previous start against the Dodgers this year. Shields went seven solid innings, giving up three runs on only five hits against Los Angeles on May 24. If Shields can make just a slight improvement from that - going seven and giving up two runs instead of three -- he'd force Bolsinger to be lights-out, and as great as Bolsinger has been, the reality about pitchers who are relatively new to the majors (even if they're 27 years old and not 22 or 21) is that the more other teams and hitters see them, the more they regress to the mean. Bolsinger has snuck up on opposing hitters this season, and his continued run of great form is very impressive. However, you have to wonder how sustainable this really is. Shields does not have to be spectacular to win this game for San Diego; he only needs to be really good. If so, Bolsinger will have to walk a tightrope. Any single mistake with men on base could prove to be very, very costly for him, the Dodgers and anyone backing them with MLB picks.

 

Outlook
Bolsinger has been very steady all season while we’ve seen a few cracks in Shields’ armor of late. He had a 2.90 ERA in April, 4.34 ERA in May and now a 4.38 ERA in June. Bolsinger’s 4.50 ERA in June is much higher than previous months too as he’s also been touched up a little bit of late. I see the MLB odds total sitting at 7 and I’m going to go with the over. Only one of Shields’ 13 starts this season has seen less than 13 runs.

MLB Pick: Over at 5Dimes