MLB Betting Notes: Dodgers, Nationals Wrap Up Their Set on Sunday Night Baseball
Another week of baseball will come to a close with two National League favorites doing battle on Sunday Night Baseball.
The only problem is, neither team is playing much like a contender so far.
The Nationals and Dodgers are a combined 19-21 coming into Sunday. As we’ve been saying all month, it’s still plenty early, but given the hot starts by the Mets and Diamondbacks, these two squads may want to kick things into gear with the quickness.
Washington Nationals (+155) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (-170) | O/U: 8
8:05 p.m. ET
Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 3.86 ERA) vs. Alex Wood (0-2, 3.91 ERA)
Knock on Wood: Alex Wood has the clear edge on the rubber over Jeremy Hellickson tonight. Wood’s win-loss record and 3.91 ERA are a little misleading. Wood has benefited from a .227 BABIP (batting average on balls in play), but his xFIP (a regressed version of fielding independent pitching) sits at 2.68 this season, suggesting he’s been a bit unlucky. In fact, Wood’s peripheral numbers this year have been really strong, so let’s see if we can spot any red flags under the hood by putting them next to his career metrics.
It looks like a couple of those numbers could be outliers, but they require further attention. Wood’s 2018 ground-ball rate is seven clicks higher than his career mark, but over the past two seasons, the 27-year-old has put up better than a 53% GB%. If we are to assume his career numbers tell a more complete story than his 2018 numbers, we can expect to see more walks and dingers when Wood pitches. The former Brave has always been good at keeping the ball in the yard, but his current home run-to-flyball rate is at 5% and his BB/9 is absurdly low, so those numbers will tick up.
Even if his advanced metrics level out, Wood still has the potential to be an ace if he stays healthy and his early season numbers are encouraging, but he will always fly under the radar because he pitches on the same team as Clayton Kershaw. — Michael Leboff
Southpaw Struggles: Through Thursday, the Nationals rank second-to-worst in the league against left-handers at .189. A lot is injury-driven. Don’t forget that Daniel Murphy, Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon are all on the DL. When the Nats are fully healthy, they can hit southpaws, as evidenced by their .275 average in 2017 — fifth-best in MLB. Wood has seen the Nats quite a bit in his career, given his Braves roots, and has good numbers against the reigning NL East champs.
Clutch Gene: Despite all of their injuries, the Nats have stayed afloat thanks to timely hitting. Washington ranks second in MLB in hitting with runners in scoring position (.290). Washington also ranks first in OBP and slugging with runners on. Meanwhile, the Dodgers haven’t been able to find those key hits. L.A. ranks 25th in hitting with RISP at .247. — Stuckey
Highway To Hell: Jeremy Hellickson has started 198 games in his career, with the majority of his success coming on the East Coast. Hellickson is 76-68 on the moneyline when the game is played in the Eastern time zone (+7.5 units). But when he starts a game in any other time zone, his value completely disappears: He is 20-34 (37%) on the moneyline, for -11.2 units, including a 6-12 mark against NL West opponents. — Evan Abrams
Did You Know?: The Dodgers play on Sunday Night Baseball this week for the second time already this season, and in both games, L.A. was below .500 entering the contest. The Dodgers haven’t played two SNB games in a single season in which they were below .500 since 2005. The 2005 season ended with the Dodgers 71-91, missing the playoffs and finishing fourth in the NL West. — Evan Abrams