Can the Dodgers bounce back in this one and cash on the MLB lines after playing like a shaken team on Monday night in the first game of this two-game series against the Texas Rangers?
The Los Angeles Dodgers Can Win Because...
They are going to be more relaxed in this game after the plane scare -- they should be able to settle down and get back to what they do best. Moreover, though, the Dodgers are going up against a pitcher with only three big-league starts to his credit. Chi Chi Gonzalez is 23 years old and breaking into the big leagues. He's not a guy such as Dodger pitcher Mike Bolsinger who is busting into the bigs at a more advanced age such as 27. He's new to this. That newness has paid off for him in these first few starts because hitters have never seen him. However, the odds suggest that he's going to make some mistakes, and the more starts he accumulates, the more other teams will develop scouting reports against him. This is the familiar tension bettors have to deal with when they consider young pitchers just breaking into the majors.
A few more things have to be said about Gonzalez: He has pitched two of his three games against last-place teams in respective divisions. The Oakland Athletics are in last place in the American League West, and the Boston Red Sox are in last place in the American League East. Big-leaguers, professionals, can only pitch against the teams they face, and Gonzalez certainly made short work of both teams -- he gave up no runs to Boston in 5 2/3 innings, one run to Oakland in seven innings -- but the Dodgers are a team that has maintained a winning identity, something the A's and Red Sox have not done the past few seasons since making the playoffs in 2013. Gonzalez is going to face the toughest test of his very young career, and you don't want to assume that he's going to continue to roll the way he's been doing.
The other thing to mention about the MLB odds favored Dodgers is that their own starter, Brett Anderson, went eight straight starts giving up no more than three runs. This span of eight starts was very recent, leading up to his most recent start, in which he wasn't quite as good. Anderson's consistency suggests that this most recent wobble on June 10 against Arizona should not be taken too seriously. A pitcher with a 3.57 ERA based on a full season's worth of starts should be looked at favorably unless the opposing pitcher is similarly proven with a much lower ERA. Gonzalez has the much lower ERA, but is he nearly as proven as Anderson? No, he's not.
The Texas Rangers Can Win Because...
They are playing good baseball and are near the top of the American League West. Consider what the Rangers and their pitching rotation are doing this year: They are succeeding even without their staff ace, Yu Darvish. Texas has been hit by a number of injuries, remaking the pitching staff that had once been part of an annual playoff team. The Rangers were not supposed to be in contention in this year's American League West. This was supposed to be a division race between the Angels and the Mariners, but Texas has done a lot better than expected.
When you consider why Texas has been a lot better than expected, look at Chi Chi Gonzalez as a perfect example. Sure, he's pitched in only three games, but what a dazzling three games! He has a 0.42 ERA, which is microscopic. Moreover, Gonzalez threw a complete-game shutout against the Kansas City Royals -- he beat a good team, not just a bottom-feeder such as the A's or Red Sox. When you shut out the defending American League champions, you have a very level head on your shoulders.
Anderson doesn’t have a strong track record against Texas, posting a career 6.81 ERA against them. And the Rangers bat .314 against him. Beyond that, the Dodgers have had a tough time providing him with run support, so I’ll take a shot with Texas as my MLB pick here.
MLB Pick: Rangers at GT Bets