Dodgers & Pirates open their 3-games series tonight and our MLB handicapper looks at the odds and the outstanding pitching matchup in Pittsburgh tonight to see what we should expect. Hint: It's a pitcher's duel.
Is there a chance that a game ends with negative runs scored? That’s about what we are looking at in this matchup, as two of the best starters this year in the National League take the mound against each other in a Friday night feature when Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers visit Gerrit Cole of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Each with 62 wins on the season, the Dodgers and Pirates find themselves in tight division races even after being 16 and 18 games over .500, respectively. The Dodgers are leading the NL West over the San Francisco Giants by three games and the Pirates find themselves inexplicitly six games back of the best team in the MLB, the St. Louis Cardinals.
With this start, Gerrit Cole will have surpassed innings pitched versus any season in his young career. You have to give props to the Pirates organization by letting Cole develop slowly after being the first overall pick in 2011 as it’s definitely paying off. The statistics for Cole this year are off the charts, 14-5 record, 2.29 ERA, 138/29 K/BB rate, 1.10 WHIP, and .241 BAA. Cole’s been a model of consistency both home and away, with no real splits to speak of and an 8-2 home record (2.60 ERA) to go with a 6-3 away record (2.01 ERA). He’s also 2-0 lifetime against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The only real chink in Cole’s armor is Dodger star, Yasiel Puig, who is 5-6 off of Cole in his career. Sometimes you just have someone’s number.
What Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw are up to in LA must be fun to watch if you are a Dodger fan. Usually you have to wait every five days to know you have a win in the bag with your ace. The Dodgers have had a run where they know every other series is going to be won a least 2-1. The fans had to wait a little longer last time to see Kershaw though, as he was held back a few days with a small hip issue. Well, some are saying hip, but I’m reading it as a ‘sore butt’. It’s fortunate that Kershaw is pitching lights out or we’d be able to have fun with that one. As you all probably have read elsewhere, Kershaw hasn’t given up a run in four straight starts. That has put his season numbers at a 9-6 record, 2.37 ERA, 192/28 K/BB ratio (wow), 0.91 WHIP, and .199 BAA. Amazingly, those statistics are in line with the crazy seasons that Kershaw put up in 2013 and 2014. The strikeouts are trending up; however, and Kershaw has an outside chance of exceeding his career high in that category. He’s a stud.
The MLB Pick
Although not surprising, the public is backing the Dodgers in this one to the tune of 79% of wagers placed according to my sources. SBR has the consensus right around 54%. I’ll have a hard time picking against the Pirates at home, as they are 36-18 there. On the flippity-flip, the Los Angeles Dodgers are 25-28 on the road. The real lean if I was to pick a side would be the home town underdog +1.5 on the run line, just on principle. But I’m not going to pick the side in what should be a 2-1 or 2-0 game. Instead, the under is the screaming MLB pick here, even though the O/U total is listed at just 6 at multiple books. Wait until just before game time to place that wager, as the public will see that low total and bet the over – they just can’t help themselves.
MLB Pick: Under 6