The Pittsburgh Pirates begin their final road trip of the season Friday in Los Angeles where the Dodgers are heavy favorites on the MLB odds behind Cy Young candidate Zack Greinke.
It was a case of injury being added to insult Thursday night in Pittsburgh for the Pirates. Not only did they lose their third consecutive game to the division rival Cubs, the Pirates also lost rookie sensation Jung Ho Kang for the remainder of the season to broken left leg and knee injury.
The injury comes just as Pittsburgh is beginning a long 10-game road trip that starts with a set this weekend in Los Angeles against the Dodgers who will throw two of the game's best pitchers at the Pirates in the first couple of contests. Zack Greinke is the first arm Pittsburgh has to face in Friday's 10:10 PM (ET) matchup, Los Angeles decided chalk at BetOnline with a -190 moneyline. Jeff Locke goes for the Pirates with the MLB odds showing a 6½ run total that is priced to the 'over.'
The Dodgers have a nice lead in the all-time series, and really beat up on the Pirates for more than a decade before last year. Los Angeles has won 73 of the last 112 meetings, and own better than a 2:1 winning percentage at Dodger Stadium, but the Pirates have started to turn that around by taking nine of the last 11 and five in a row entering play Friday night.
The Bucs took three of four at Chavez Ravine in 2014, 'over' bettors also cashing three times. Playing the totals to go past the MLB odds has been the right way to go the past couple of years, the Pirates' home sweep of LA in August ending with all three games skipping past the scoreboard numbers.
Locke Winless In 2 Previous LA Starts
Pittsburgh (87-59, +16.1 units) still owns the 2nd-best record in the National League, but losing the final three in the series against Chicago shrunk the Pirates' wild card lead to just two games over the Cubs. This road trip will include a 4-game stop in Colorado next week before a weekend showdown in the Windy City against the Cubs.
Inconsistency has plagued Locke in the second half, though he's looked better his last two starts. The southpaw is coming off a win over the Brewers last Saturday in Pittsburgh, working into the seventh and allowing only three hits while whiffing seven would-be Milwaukee hitters.
He is facing Los Angeles for the first time since June 2013, and making just his third career start at Dodger Stadium. Both of the previous two ended in defeat for Locke, his linescore reading nine innings and seven runs allowed in those two contests.
Dodgers 11-4 At Home Behind Greinke
Sitting 23 games above .500 yet still costing baseball bettors money should give you a good idea of how much chalk Los Angeles (84-61, -5.3 units) is burdened with on a daily basis. The Dodgers have been slowly shipping away at that red number by taking nine of their last 12, the stretch good enough for a +5 unit return vs. the MLB odds.
Greinke has notched the dubya each of his last four times out, his only loss since the end of July coming in a 3-1 decision to the Astros in Houston about a month ago when the Dodgers were swept. You have to go all the way back to June 7 to find the last time he lost a home start, LA a perfect 7-0 since the 4-2 setback at the hands of St. Louis. Greinke missed the Pirates when the clubs met at PNC Park in August, and is 1-2 with a 4.67 ERA against them since he joined the Dodgers. Andrew McCutchen has been a tough matchup for Greinke, the Pittsburgh outfielder slugging .625 in 26 plate appearances against the righthander.
The thermometer is going to be in the mid-to-upper 70s when Greinke delivers the game's first pitch, the skies over Tinseltown clear and a light zephyr from the west (left to right). I'm going to play the run line on LA for my free MLB pick Friday night.
MLB Pick: Dodgers -1½ (+110) at BetOnline
Season: 84-80-4 (+4.20)