Editor’s note: The opinion on this game is from the individual writer and is based on his research, analysis and perspective. It is independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.
Richard Mackson, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Clayton Kershaw
Betting odds: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Oakland Athletics
- Dodgers: -153
- Athletics: +143
- Over/Under: 7.5
- First pitch: 10:05 p.m. ET
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A lot of people are worried about Clayton Kershaw. He’s pitched well since returning from the DL, the Dodgers are contending for first place, but something seems not quite right. People think it may be his health, and the fact he’s pitched so much during their last few runs to the postseason.
When you set the bar as high as Kershaw does, with numbers last year that were periodically historic, that kind of talk is going to happen with even minute struggles. But really, the fact is that whatever this version of Kershaw seems like, it’s more than enough to succeed at a high level. In Wednesday night’s game against Oakland, I would expect more of the same.
Kershaw is coming off an impressive performance — 7.2 innings at home against Atlanta allowing 1 earned run. In every start since he’s returned from injury he’s allowed three runs or fewer and in his last six outings he’s gone at least six innings. He may not be the historic Kershaw, but there’s a consistency here that is admirable and, I believe, bet-able.
Throw in the fact that Oakland isn’t hitting the ball well recently (.228 BA, .714 OPS in August) and the oddity that they have hit atrociously at home (.229 with a .693 OPS in 55 home games) and this seems like an enticing match-up. It will also be as pitcher-friendly as Oakland can get — temperatures dipping below 60 in the later parts of the game. I think this is set up to get the best out of whatever Kershaw has at this point.
On the other side, Mike Fiers makes his debut for Oakland after coming over from Detroit, and to me there’s a lot of uncertainty here. I think this total is being set with the idea that Fiers has been a consistent, reliable option all season who’s enjoyed reasonable success.
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First off, a trade like this changes all of his pre-game routines, all of the details during a start. That may not throw him off, we have no idea, but it at least creates uncertainty. Second, he got hit with a liner on his shin in his last start, forcing him to exit after just two innings. We haven’t seen him pitch since. Again, not a for-sure negative, but more uncertainty. Third, he’s a pitcher who, the last three years, has gotten much worse as the season as gone towards it’s conclusion. His ERA by month the last three years: 3.48 in July, 4.56 in August, 6.47 in September. As consistent as he had been for Detroit, we are entering the part of the season where he has struggled the most. Again, more uncertainty.
My model gave a tiny edge to the Dodgers at these prices, but I think with all the extra uncertainties and factors involving Fiers, his move to Oakland, and what we can expect in this spot, there’s even more reason to like LA in this spot.
The Bet: Dodgers -153