MLB Picks: Expect A Low Scoring Series Opener Between Pirates & Dodgers

L.A. Dodgers

Jay Pryce

Friday, August 12, 2016 2:36 PM UTC

Friday, Aug. 12, 2016 2:36 PM UTC

Ross Stripling fills in for the ailing Rich Hill, as the Dodgers host the Pirates and newcomer Ivan Nova Friday night in L.A. It is the opener of a much-anticipated three-game series between the two. Check out our free MLB pick for analysis here. 

Pittsburgh Pirates vs L.A. Dodgers  

Pittsburgh Pirates (57-55) – Ivan Nova (8-6, 4.83 ERA)
For years, Pirates fans cringed when their beloved Buccos traveled to L.A. to take on the Dodgers. From 2004-13, they went 7-29, losing by nearly three runs per game on average. Fortunes have changed, though, with Pittsburgh going 5-2 in their last two trips to the Chavez Ravine. It opens a three-game series tonight as +150 dogs.

Ivan Nova in on the bump for skipper Clint Hurdle. The long-time Yankees right-hander is making his second start for the Pirates. He won his debut against the Reds on Saturday, allowing three earned runs on six hits in 7.0 innings.

This is Nova’s first ever outing against the Dodgers. A few on L.A.’s current roster have faced him, mostly former AL players, including Adrian Gonzales (0-for-9), Howie Kendrick (2-for-9), and Justin Turner (2-for-6). One-time Athletics slugger Josh Reddick gives Nova fits, going 5-for13 with two doubles and two home runs.

The Pirates are 8-3 in their last 11 as road underdogs, returning bettors more than 80 percent profit at +150 average MLB odds. Hurdle’s staff is holding opponents to 3.2 runs per game in this situation. But the Bucs are tepid since the All-Star break, going 11-12 overall. At a -135 average price, fading Pittsburgh has netted almost a 15 percent profit since. 


Los Angeles Dodgers (64-50) – Ross Stripling (3-3, 3.79 ERA)
L.A. is owning National League opponents at Dodger Stadium this season, going 32-17 overall. Versus the Central, it is 8-2, taking the series against the Cardinals, Reds, and Brewers—the team has yet to host the MLB-leading Cubs. For what it’s worth, the Pirates took each of the last two series in L.A in 2014 and 2015.

Manager Dave Roberts sends Ross Stripling to the hill tonight. Stripling is filling in for scheduled starter Rich Hill, the southpaw still suffering from a blister on his throwing hand. Stripling made the team out of spring training as the fifth starter but has worked out of the bullpen primarily since late May. His last appearance on Saturday was as a starter, though, and the right-hander delivered. Stripling held the high-scoring Red Sox scoreless through five frames, earning the decision in a 3-0 win.

Roberts hopes he can work long into the game tonight. The Dodgers’ bullpen is taxed. The rotation has put in just one quality start in the last 12 games. Stripling, though, has reached the sixth inning in just one of his last six starts.

The UNDER is 36-17 when L.A. tosses the first pitch as home chalk this season. The wager is a perfect 4-0 under Stripling this season. 

Since the All-Star break, however, the OVER is 15-8 in Dodgers contests, tied with the Diamondbacks for MLB’s highest percentage. Slugging in 5.3 runs and allowing 4.7 per game in this stretch, they have surpassed an average 8.5 game total by 1.5 runs per contest.


Final Analysis
Stripling is not armed with dazzling stuff, but his off-speed pitches induce plenty of groundballs. His fastball is below par (91 mph), yet it is his superior 12-6 curveball and a better-than-average slider that are real worm burners. Keep the ball down, keep the score down. Coupled with Nova’s new confines and the Dodgers unfamiliarity with the visiting righty, we expect a lower scoring effort in this matchup, particularly early in the game. Stripling will have to command the plate and work deep, though. He should have his confidence sky high after his last effort. UNDER 4 runs through the F5 innings is the free MLB pick


Free MLB Pick: Under 4 +105
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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