Hyun-Jin Ryu, already 1-0 on the season, takes another turn in LA's rotation Sunday, against Andrew Cashner for San Diego. Here's how we handicap this contest, and we'll throw in a free MLB pick, you know, because we care.
In the early betting for Sunday's game the line sat at right around a pick 'em, with a total of 6.5 runs. Los Angeles could also be gotten at around +160 giving the run and a half on the run line.
LA is a favorite not just to win the NL West this season but to win the whole ball of wax. With a rotation that starts off with Kershaw-Ryu-Greinke and a lineup that can go Crawford-Puig-Kemp-Gonzalez-Ramirez, Los Angeles has been tagged with a wins OVER/UNDER of 92.
The Dodgers are already 2-0 this season, having won those two games in the Land Down Under against the Diamondbacks by scores of 3-1 and 7-5.
On the homey side this game San Diego battled through a slew of injuries (and other happenings) last year to win 76 games. The Padres then didn't do a whole lot over the off-season, tweaking the bullpen a bit, adding injury-prone Josh Johnson to what could be a fairly good starting rotation. If the Padres could just stay healthy they could definitely make a run at .500 this season.
San Diego will go off this season with a wins O/U of 79.
The Arms Match-Up
Lefty Ryu went 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA as a ML rookie last season, going 22-for-30 in quality starts. He then opened this season by throwing five innings of two-hit shut-out ball against Arizona, walking one while striking out five.
Ryu started just once against San Diego last season, throwing 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run and eight hits, walking one and whiffing six in a 9-2 Dodgers victory in August.
Cashner, meanwhile, went 10-9 with a 3.09 last year, going 19-for-31 on quality starts. He also started three times against LA last year, allowing just two ER and 19 hits through 22 innings, walking four while striking out 16. San Diego lost all three of those games, by scores of 3-1, 2-1 and 1-0.
LA relievers combined for a 3.49 ERA last year, which ranked 13th in the Majors, and converted 46 of 65 save opportunities. Now the Dodgers hope to have Brian Wilson for a full healthy season.
Meanwhile San Diego's pen wasn't as good last year as in recent seasons, but it still ranked 10th with a 3.39 ERA while converting 40 of 53 save chances. Over the off-season the Padres traded set-up man Luke Gregerson, but signed Joaquin Benoit from Detroit.
LA ranked 17th in the Majors in scoring last year at 4.0 runs per game, ninth in team OBP at .326 and 24th in home runs with 138. But with full healthy seasons from Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez, among others, you'd think those numbers would improve.
The Dodgers are also expecting good things from Alexander Guerrero, the Cuban shortstop they signed over the off-season to play second base.
San Diego ranked 24th in scoring last year at 3.8 RPG, 22nd in team OBP at .308 and 21st in homers with 146. But it should be remembered that Cameron Maybin missed all but 14 games, Everth Cabrera missed 65, Carlos Quentin missed 80 and Chase Headley, with little protection, hit just .250. With better health the Padres will be more productive. Then again, who says they're going to have better health?
LA took the season series from San Diego last year 11 games to eight. Also, the totals split down the middle in this series last year, going 9-9-1, even though the games only averaged 6.9 total runs per.
Yasiel Puig left the Dodgers' second game down in Australia with a sore back, but he is expected to play Sunday night. However, Carl Crawford is uncertain, as he deals with a family situation, and Kemp starts the season on the DL with a sore shoulder.
Meanwhile San Diego is already banged up, and might be without Headley (calf), Quentin (knee) and Maybin (biceps) for at least this series.
Dodgers-Padres Free Pick
We had success betting the Dodgers with Ryu last year; they went 19-11 in his starts. And there probably won't be too many times this season when he won't be favored, sometimes by some big prices. So while Cashner was tough on LA last year, we still like the Dodgers for our first free MLB pick of the season. And since we like to gamble, we'll take LA on the run line, getting +164 at Pinnacle.