MLB Picks: Bet 'Under' In Dodgers' Ace vs. Padres In Their Starting Game

Matthew Jordan

Monday, April 4, 2016 1:08 PM GMT

Dodgers have won three straight NL West titles and open the season as slight MLB betting favorites to make it a fourth as they start the 2016 campaign Monday at division rival Padres.

Managers Debut
This will be the big-league managerial debut of both the Dodgers' Dave Roberts and the Padres' Andy Green. L.A. got rid of Don Mattingly despite those three straight division titles because they kept underachieving in the playoffs. The Dodgers were favored to beat the Mets in last year's NLDS but lost in five games. Roberts, a former big-league outfielder who had one of the most important stolen bases in Boston Red Sox history (2004 ALCS vs. Yankees), is the first minority manager in the franchise's history. Of course the Dodgers broke the color barrier with players by giving Jackie Robinson his first shot. Roberts played with L.A. from 2002-04.

The Padres fired Manager Bud Black during last season and replaced him on a full-time basis this offseason with Arizona third-base coach Green. They could have just hired Roberts. He was hired as the Padres' first-base coach in 2011 and spent the past two seasons as the team's bench coach. San Diego has had five straight losing seasons and has missed the playoffs for nine straight years. The Padres aren't expected to do much this season, either, as they have a season wins total of 72 on MLB odds boards.

 

Probable Pitchers
Los Angeles starts the best pitcher in baseball and the +150 favorite on MLB picks to win a fourth Cy Young Award, left-hander Clayton Kershaw. He had a "down" season by his standards in 2015 in finishing only third in the Cy Young voting and not leading the majors in ERA for the first time since 2010. Kershaw was 16-7 with a 2.13 ERA and 0.88 WHIP last year -- still pretty spectacular.

He will be the first Dodgers pitcher to make six consecutive Opening Day starts since Don Sutton made seven in a row, which is the team record. Kershaw is going to have to be terrific again this season because that Dodgers rotation lost Cy Young runner-up Zack Greinke this offseason in free agency to Arizona and is dealing with a ton of injuries already.

Kershaw made three starts last year against San Diego and didn't get a decision. He had a 2.20 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 16.1 innings, holding Padres hitters to a .200 average. So clearly he didn't get much run support. Former Dodger Matt Kemp is 2-for-5 career off Kershaw with three RBIs. Wil Myers is 0-for-8 with five strikeouts. Derek Norris is 3-for-11 with a double.

New Padres starting shortstop Alexei Ramirez is 5-for-8 off Kershaw. Ramirez was the team's big free-agent signing this winter. And that's not that big. The team lost two of its best players in outfielder Justin Upton (free agency to Detroit) and closer Craig Kimbrel (traded to Red Sox).

The Padres start right-hander Tyson Ross (10-12, 3.26 ERA in 2015), a guy many think will be traded by the July 31 deadline because he would bring back a nice package of young players. Ross was 0-1 in two starts last year against the Dodgers despite a 2.25 ERA. He struck out seven in 12.0 innings. Outfielder Carl Crawford is 9-for-18 career off him with four doubles. He's going to play a lot more now that Andre Ethier is out three months with a leg injury.

The Dodgers open the season with two other regulars on the DL as well but just short term: second baseman Howie Kendrick and catcher  Yasmani Grandal. So Chase Utley will man second and A.J. Ellis be behind the plate. Kendrick and Grandal (who was acquired last offseason in the Kemp deal with San Diego) could both be back before the home opener on April 12 against the Diamondbacks.

Los Angeles has the top prospect in baseball and NL Rookie of the Year betting favorite Corey Seager, younger brother of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager. The Dodgers called Corey up late last season and he hit .338 with four homers and 17 RBIs in 98 at-bats. He didn't get to face Ross.

 

MLB Free Picks
Have to love the 'under' here. And you just can't bet against Kershaw. The Dodgers are 7-0 in his past seven starts vs. the Padres. San Diego is 1-6 in Ross' past seven vs. L.A. The 'under' is 6-1 in Ross' past seven vs. the Dodgers. The 'under' is 15-6 in Kershaw's past 21 starts overall. 

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Free MLB Pick: 'Under' 6 (-105)
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle