Don't Lay Chalk on Slumping Dodgers vs. Oakland

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 11:23 AM UTC

Tuesday, Apr. 10, 2018 11:23 AM UTC

The LA Dodgers host Oakland Tuesday at 10:10 ET on the MLB Network.  The Oakland ML has been pounded to almost even odds since opening as high as +159. Should you follow the crowd?

Oakland Athletics (4-7, 5-5-1 O/U) at Los Angeles Dodgers (3-6, 3-6 O/U)Free MLB Pick: Under 8Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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If you want to pick a side, the Dodgers aren't the play. Their bats have been slumping, and it's not like they've been facing ace material. The pitchers who have stopped them have been names that the average bettor might not be familiar with, like Ty Blach and Chris Stratton. LA has scored eight runs in the past four games despite getting some help from extra innings. In those games, their team BA is .184. Something is evidently wrong with the Dodgers, who nearly won a World Series last year and have been universally favored to at least win their division. Perhaps they are suffering from a World Series-losing hangover. At all events, If a team can't score, it's not worth laying chalk on.

Oakland starter Sean Manaea (1-1 1.15 ERA) can prolong LA's woes. He's been stepping up in a young A's rotation while defying the prejudice against pitchers who see their velocity drop. He isn't throwing as hard, but his control has been all the better, earning an 11:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his past two starts, giving up two runs in 15.2 innings. In doing so, Manaea is building off his strong finish last season, in which he surrendered one run in the final 11.2 innings. Importantly, those two strong starts were on the road. Manaea needs to keep working on not giving into hitters on the road. He walks more batters at home but fewer on the road -- but gives up more home runs on the road. In those two last road starts, he didn't give up any home runs. The maturing Manaea also benefits from facing an LA lineup that ranks 27th in home run percentage.

The other big reason that I like the 'under' is that I believe LA starter Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-1 7.36 ERA) will bounce back. He did have a rough first start, but one start in and of itself isn't predictive of the next. Ryu got some extra time off due to weather delays and should benefit from it. In 22 careers starts with 6+ days rest, he has a solid 3.04 ERA. He also loves pitching in front of the LA faithful, where his career ERA is 3.25. Ryu's success at home is a major reason why the 'under' is 6-2 in his last eight home starts when the total is set between 7 and 8.5.

As a lefty, he has an advantage against Oakland's lineup, which continues to struggle against southpaws. Last season, Oakland BA was .235 against lefties, .14 lower than against righties. This season, its OPS is .660 (.720 is average) vs southpaws. Whereas LA's hitters are struggling to hit anybody, Oakland's is struggling against lefties. Ryu has also been a strong bounce-back pitcher, producing an ERA of 3.60 or lower in his last three starts following an outing in which his ERA was over 5.00.

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With each team getting Monday off, bullpens will be fresh. Both rank in the better half in terms of ERA and neither one will disturb the 'under' in our MLB Picks. NL Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger has been battling food poisoning, which doesn't explain his recent 3-for-13 slump. Bellinger will probably play, but Manaea allows a career .202 BA against lefty hitters. For Oakland, don't forget that since the game is in LA, the A's pitchers will be hitting instead of a DH.

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