MLB Odds: Back Dodgers' Red-Hot Kenta Maeda vs. Marlins

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, April 28, 2016 4:34 PM GMT

It's an abbreviated schedule around baseball on Thursday and easily the most intriguing pitching matchup is the series finale between Miami and Los Angeles. Check inside for the MLB pick.

What You Need To Know
I'm sure the Marlins players would love to win this series for first-year manager Don Mattingly, and they surprisingly were up 2-0 in the four-game set entering Wednesday. Of course Mattingly was a highly successful manager with the Dodgers from 2011-15.

He was 446-363 in the regular season, a winning percentage of .551. The Dodgers won the NL West title each of the past three seasons. But they always disappointed in the playoffs and were just 8-11 overall under Mattingly.

So after losing to the underdog Mets in five games in last season's NLDS, the Dodgers decided to cut Mattingly loose with one year remaining on his contract. And it was solely the postseason results. Among managers with a winning percentage of at least .550 in the regular season and at least 15 postseason games managed in  a career, Mattingly has the second-worst postseason winning percentage (.421), behind only Grady Little.

He managed Boston from 2002-03 and the Dodgers from 2006-07 and was 6-9 in the playoffs. It should be noted that the current Dodgers front office wasn't the group that originally hired Mattingly. The Marlins quickly snapped him up. The Dodgers surely have no regrets as they are leading the NL West again under rookie manager Dave Roberts.

L.A. is +100 on MLB odds boards to win another division title. The Marlins aren't much of a threat in the NL East it doesn't appear and are +2000 to win the division.

Probable Pitchers
Miami starts Jose Fernandez here, and don't rule out the possibility that the  next time the young Cuban right-hander starts in Dodger Stadium it's in Dodger Blue. You see, Fernandez is going to be a free agent after the 2018 season. His agent is Scott Boras, who has had some issues with the Marlins front office over the use of his client off Tommy John surgery.

There's no way the Marlins likely will be able to re-sign Fernandez, so the thinking is he will be traded perhaps this winter with two years left under team control. The Dodgers almost surely would be first in line because money is no object there and they have a ton of young prospects they could send to south Florida.

Fernandez (1-2, 4.37) has had two really good starts and two that were mediocre this season. It was the latter on Saturday in San Francisco, allowing four runs and a season-high seven hits in six innings. He struck out five and walked three. On the season, he has struck out 32 and allowed only 18 hits in 22.2 innings but those 11 walks are a bit high.

Fernandez is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA in his career vs. the Dodgers and hasn't pitched in L.A. since his 2013 Rookie of the Year season. L.A.'s Carl Crawford is 4-for-8 career off him with two RBIs and a walk. Chase Utley is 2-for-9 with an RBI. Adrian Gonzalez is 1-for-7 with a homer, three RBIs and two walks.

One of the biggest stories in baseball thus far has been the historic start of Dodgers Japanese rookie right-hander Kenta Maeda, and he's on the mound here. He is your clear Rookie of the Year favorite on MLB picks at 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA in four starts. That one run allowed was on a homer to San Francisco's Joe Panik on April 17.

 

Kenta Maeda
Maeda is the first pitcher ever to surrender just one run in his first four MLB starts. He has the highest rate of stranding runners (100 percent) in baseball and the lowest ERA of anyone who has pitched at least 20 innings. Maeda took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of his last start at offensive-friendly Coors Field in Denver.

Maeda has thrown only thrown 41.5 percent of his pitches in the strike zone, which is among the worst in the majors. But he is getting hitters to chase on 36.4 percent of pitches outside the strike zone, among the best in MLB. So one would think that batters would stop chasing those pitches eventually.

The Dodgers never thought he would be this good when they won the bidding for him this past offseason. No one did. The Marlins have never faced Maeda as they have spring training in Florida and the Dodgers in Arizona.

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":2992194, "sportsbooksIds":[93,1096,169,999996,180,139], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]
Free MLB Picks: How can you pick against Maeda right now? It will end at some point, but not until teams see him a second time. Go Dodgers and 'under.' The Marlins are 2-9 in Fernandez's past 11 road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The 'under' is 5-2 in his past seven in that situation. The 'under' is 4-0 in Maeda's four starts. 
Best Line Offered: at YouWager