The NL East champion Mets travel to take on the kings of the NL West, the Dodgers. The MLB odds makers have installed Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw as a -200 favorite but is he worth it?
Kershaw Gets the Nod
Don Mattingly found himself in the middle of the very best quandary a Major League manager could possibly have – which Cy Young candidate on my staff do I choose to start Game 1 of the National League playoffs? And though Zack Greinke technically had better regular season numbers than Clayton Kershaw (19-3 vs. 16-7, 1.66 ERA vs. 2.13 ERA, 0.84 WHIP vs. 0.88 WHIP) it is Kershaw that has won three of the last four National League Cy Young Awards in addition to winning the 2014 NL MVP and totaled 301 strikeouts this season, the most in the majors in over a dozen seasons.
Mets Tap deGrom
Jacob deGrom looked razor sharp in the last game of the regular season against the Washington Nationals. Granted the stint was short by design as manager Terry Collins wanted a fresh arm for the first round of the postseason but deGrom pitched four innings of no hit ball and struck out seven before he was headed for the showers. The Mets, installed as -210 home chalk by the MLB odds makers, eventually won that game off a solo shot by Curtis Granderson in the eighth inning which secured the 1-0 victory. The win stopped a five-game skid for the Mets but it was too little too late to secure home field advantage as the Dodgers’ regular season record bested them by two games.
Offenses Going in Opposite Directions
While the Mets were reeling down the stretch, dropping five of their last six, the Dodgers were doing exactly the opposite and the ramifications led to LA hosting Game 1 of the NLDS and gaining home field advantage. The Mets managed only two runs over their last four games while the Dodgers crossed 17 men across the plate over the same duration. The argument can legitimately be made that these two offenses were of the same middling variety during the regular season with New York ranked 17th in runs scored while LA was close behind at 19th but the way they ended is far more important than what they did over 162 games. LA’s offense is getting it done while the Mets’ bats have gone silent.
Let’s talk about the pink elephant in the room and get that out of the way. Clayton Kershaw has not been Clayton Kershaw in the postseason. The Dodgers’ ace is 1-5 in the postseason with a 5.12 ERA. Not good but clearly not indicative of Kershaw’s body of work throughout his career. In his last outing Kershaw was on a short leash with manager Don Mattingly leaning towards giving his All-Star the Game 1 assignment against New York. Kershaw tossed for 3.2 innings and allowed two hits and no runs. Prior to that he pitched a complete game against the Giants in which he came one hit away from a no-hitter and K’ed 13 in the process.
deGrom is 0-2 with a 3.66 ERA in his career against the Dodgers as opposed to Kershaw who has registered a 6-0 mark with a 1.34 ERA against the Mets. There is no doubt we have two terrific pitchers who can dominate but one is distinctly better than the other and he (Kershaw) has the support of an offense that is firing at the right time. If you included the Dodgers in your MLB picks whenever Kershaw took the mound at home you would be aware that his team went 13-4 and brought home +4.1 units to the right side of the ledger while deGrom’s Mets went 10-5 when he started for them on the road returning +4.0 units to the good guys. Again, no disrespect to deGrom but LA has the better pitcher, a more potent offense and home field advantage.
MLB Pick: Play the Dodgers -200 at GTBets