Astros vs. Dodgers Odds, Preview, Prediction: Are the Dodgers Too Heavily Favored Again? (Wednesday, August 4)
Alika Jenner / Getty Images. Pictured: Jake Odorizzi.
Astros vs. Dodgers Odds
|Time||Wednesday, 8:40 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday and via DraftKings|
Things are never quite straightforward in baseball. On Tuesday night, the Astros received a rude greeting from Dodgers fans who finally got their chance to show their displeasure for an organization involved in a major cheating scandal.
One would have thought all the energy in a packed house of over 52,000 Dodgers fans would have created an insurmountable hurdle for Houston to overcome. Instead, it was the Astros who seemed to draw strength from the uproarious environment.
Heading into the game, Houston’s Lance McCullers Jr. wasn’t in his best form after allowing eight earned runs in his last two outings. However, he managed to pitch a gem and shut the Dodgers out for 6 2/3 innings en route to a 3-0 Astros victory.
Max Scherzer will make his Dodgers debut in tonight’s series finale and try to stave off the sweep. Jake Odorizzi will oppose him for the Astros.
Los Angeles closed as high as a -182 favorite yesterday, and today, that number has ballooned to -225. Some might view this as a sign of disrespect for an Astros team that has the second-highest win percentage in baseball behind the Giants.
With so much to unpack in this matchup, let’s dig in and see if this line move is at all warranted.
Odorizzi is set to make his 14th start and 15th appearance of the season. His record stands at 4-5 with a 4.30 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. While his 4.40 xERA and 4.30 FIP are right in line with his ERA, those numbers seem slightly high when you compare them to his WHIP.
Two things that immediately jump out at me are his 8.01 K/9 2.82 BB/9 ratios. Even though he doesn’t necessarily walk many batters, his strikeout ratio also isn’t elite. That’s probably why he’s only able to strand 69.7% of runners on base. In terms of home runs, he has a 12.3% HR/FB rate and a 1.34 HR/9 ratio.
Now, these aren’t necessarily terrible numbers, but we still don’t have enough to tell the complete story.
This season, Odorizzi has 0.89 GB/FB rate. The reality is that he’s never really been a ground ball pitcher, as evidenced by his career 0.74 GB/FB rate. So here we have a pitcher who is more likely to induce fly balls than ground balls and is not elite in striking out opposing hitters.
Having said that, I think what gives me some pause is his 24.1% CSW rate. That tells me that Odorizzi isn’t doing a good enough job to miss bats, and that’s why his 8.6% barrel rate is the second-highest of his career.
However, I still think there’s more to discover as I’m still not sure I can ascertain why his numbers aren’t worse.
I then took a look at Odorizzi’s splits through the batting order, and there’s really nothing alarming after his first two cycles. However, it’s the third time through the order where I noticed a big jump as hitters improve to a .455/.478/1.000 line with a .605 wOBA.
It appears that the Astros are also aware of these struggles, and that’s why Odorizzi only averages about 4 1/3 innings per start. It’s likely that if Houston allows Odorrizi to pitch any deeper, his overall numbers would be far worse than what I mentioned above.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have an embarrassment of riches as they’ll get to trot out a three-time Cy Young winner in Scherzer on Wednesday night. He might still have one or two butterflies left for his Dodgers debut as someone who has just about done everything there is to do in the sport.
Recently, he’s looked a little vulnerable with 12 runs allowed in his last 16 2/3 innings. However, he still sports a 2.76 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP despite that rough stretch. Overall, he’s 8-4 on the season, but his 3.26 xERA and 3.59 FIP both suggest there could be more regression in store.
I get little joy in trying to pick apart Scherzer, who’s already a hall-of-famer if he never throws another pitch. My only focus is to assess whether the Dodgers are justified in being more than a 2:1 favorite against the best team in the American League. Thus I’ll try to be fairly brief in highlighting areas where Scherzer might be vulnerable in this matchup.
There’s no question he’s a once-in-a-generation type of pitcher. In his 14th season, he’s barely shown any sign of decline as his fastball still averages 94.4 mph, which is right at his career average. His 11.92 K/9 is still elite, but sometimes bad things happen when you’re unafraid to challenge hitters in the zone.
Opposing batters have a 36.7% hard rate against Scherzer this season. That’s actually the highest in his career. In fact, in the last two seasons, he’s had an HR/9 ratio of 1.34 and 1.46—both are also career highs. Lastly, his 11.4% barrel rate is also a career-high.
So if you’re wondering if Scherzer is starting to show some signs of vulnerability, the answer is yes. Now he’s still good enough to get by most lineups. I think it’s the more elite ones that he’s struggled with this season.
If we look at the head-to-head splits, the Dodgers lineup has 45 at-bats against Odorizzi across four players and produced a .200/.302/.267 line with a .067 ISO. That could certainly work in Odorizzi’s favor, with the majority of the players in the lineup being less familiar with him.
As for Scherzer, the Astros have 76 at-bats against him across five hitters with a .250/.280/.461 line with a .211 ISO. Two of Houston’s five players bat at the top of their lineup, whereas Mookie Betts is the only Dodgers hitter atop the lineup with history against Odorizzi.
My model actually makes the Dodgers a -178 favorite, with Houston as a +161 underdog. I think there is some value on the Astros in this matchup as they’ve fully embraced their role as the antagonist, almost like a WWE character who steps into the ring serenaded by jeers from the crowd.
However, I’m going to limit my action to a run-line play in the first five innings for the following reasons:
This has also cashed in 11 of the last 13 games.
Furthermore, Odorizzi is 35-22 for nine units as a road underdog in the first five run line and he’s 8-1 in his last nine games in that spot.
After shopping around, DraftKings has the best price on the board, with Houston at +1 (-110).
Pick: Astros F5 RL (+1) (-110)