Kershaw's Weakness Exposed for our MLB Picks - Can Angels Take Advantage?

The Angels have the Dodgers number in the battle for los Angeles

Mark Lathrop

Thursday, June 29, 2017 12:33 PM UTC

Thursday, Jun. 29, 2017 12:33 PM UTC

Our MLB handicapper, Mark Lathrop, has found a flaw that can be taken advantage of with Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers. Read on as he sorts through the data and makes his pick on this Los Angeles only matchup.

Los Angeles Angeles vs Los Angeles Dodgers

2017 MLB Record, 122-109-7, +1.87 Units, 0.81% ROI

The Los Angeles Angels start their converted reliever, JC Ramirez, on Thursday evening against one of the most dominant starters in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, of the Dodgers. Even with the Angels at home they are a huge underdog and can be found at +197 on the Money Line at Heritage. The run line on the Angels is even paying plus odds at +120 at the same book for our baseball picks. The total is sitting at 7.5 or 8 runs across the board.

JC Ramirez has done an admirable job after being converted to a starter for the Angels. The team is 9-5 and +5.2 units in his 14 starts on the season. His FIP is sitting right around average for the league at 4.48, and his BB/9 rate is better than average at 2.29. One thing to watch for with converted relievers is an eventual drop in velocity. While that hasn’t particularly happened yet for Ramirez and his fastball on June 24th against Boston was clocking 96.2 mph, he has all of the sudden dropped off in his overall results.

A deep dive into Ramirez’s pitch quality has identified that his curveball vertical break has flattened out in recent starts. That has caused his curve to get hit and hit hard and he ends up throwing his fastball more. I don’t know if this is fatigue because the velocity is there, but something is going on with his mechanics. His batting average allowed has gone from .226 in April, to .270 in May, and finally to .305 in June.

Clayton Kershaw starts for the Dodgers and has proved that even he can’t escape the recent increased home run trends going around the league. His current 17.7% HR/FB rate is double his career average. In this fascinating article by one of my favorite analysts, Jeff Sullivan, it is suggested that Kershaw’s home run rate has increased because of a new, lower, average pitch location. The data is certainly there, and I’d think you would surprise a lot of people by stating that left-handed batters are slugging .542 off of Kershaw in 2017 after just slugging .159 off of him in 2016.

Unfortunately for the Angels, they just don’t have the left-handed power bats to take advantage of this newfound development with Kershaw – ever small it really is to begin with. Their lineup will be stacked with right-handers and Kershaw allows just a .162 BAA to them on the road. The Dodgers on the other hand, can take advantage of Ramirez’s .291 BAA with lefties and can stack that side of the plate on purpose. Nothing is ever automatic, but without a lefty-laden lineup against him betting on Kershaw should be. I’ll take the Dodgers at -1.5 -130 at Heritage as one of my Thursday MLB selections.

Pick Los Angeles Dodgers RL (-130)Best Line Offered at Heritage

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