Braves vs. Dodgers Odds, Pick & Preview: What To Expect From Clayton Kershaw In Encore Against Atlanta (April 18)

Braves vs. Dodgers Odds, Pick & Preview: What To Expect From Clayton Kershaw In Encore Against Atlanta (April 18) article feature image

David Berding/Getty Images. Pictured: Clayton Kershaw

  • Clayton Kershaw takes the mound for the Dodgers against the Braves tonight in Los Angeles.
  • The Dodgers are big favorites, but can we expect more of the same from Kershaw after dominance in his first start of the season?
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.

Braves vs. Dodgers Odds

Braves Odds+188
Dodgers Odds-225
Over/Under8 (-110 / -110)
Time10:10 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

A week after he was pulled in the middle of a perfect game, Clayton Kershaw will make his second start of the season and attempt to hand Atlanta its second loss in as many days.

Given the state of the Braves' offense and their starting pitcher, should we back the southpaw? Let's figure that out below.

Braves Need Ynoa, Bullpen To Thrive

Just when the Braves begin to build some momentum this year in their title defense, it seems to escape them. Atlanta had piled up two straight wins over the Padres heading into a Sunday Night Baseball showdown with the struggling Yu Darvish and fumbled away the series win, falling 2-1 on the road.

It was a game where Atlanta actually managed to out-hit the Padres 4-3, and this excellent pitching staff once again held San Diego to two or fewer runs for a third straight game.

The story on Sunday was one of excellent work by the Braves' bullpen yet again and some big pitches in pressure spots from young Bryce Elder. It was also one which clearly focused on the red-hot Marcell Ozuna, who wound up providing the only offense with a late solo home run. The tater was his second in as many games and his fifth hit in four games.

Considering the matchup here, the pitching staff is going to have to bring that same level if Atlanta wants to have any shot at winning this game. It'll start with Huascar Ynoa, who surrendered five runs on seven hits over three frames in his first start of the season against the Nationals.

The good news here is if the game is close, Atlanta will have its top relievers ready to go. Kenley Jansen, Will Smith, Tyler Matzek, AJ Minter and Collin McHugh all had the night off on Sunday, and Matzek and Minter haven't pitched since Friday.

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Dodgers Are Who We Thought They Were

Well, it seems the Dodgers are pretty much who we thought they'd be before the season. The winners of six straight, it really feels like it takes a Herculean effort to topple the World Series favorites.

L.A. is fresh off two straight sweeps of the Twins and Reds, scoring 6.7 runs per game in the process. While the competition level should be raised just a tad in theory, this offense is proving to be straight-up lethal.

Making matters worse for opponents is the fact that the Dodgers have one of the best bullpens in baseball (again). L.A. sits third in the league with a 3.06 xFIP and thus far has posted a superb 2.92 ERA in nine games. It's been rare that a Dodgers starter has faltered, but when they do, trouble usually escapes this team.

On the hill for the home team on Monday will be Kershaw. You may remember his first start of the season. He went seven perfect innings, striking out 13, before he was inexplicably pulled by manager Dave Roberts after just 80 pitches.

You'd assume Kershaw will be well-rested for this game, and the outing was certainly encouraging after a so-so 2021 campaign which saw the lefty compile a mediocre 3.55 ERA and once again battle the injury bug.

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Braves-Dodgers Pick

It's hard to say the Braves prefer to hit lefties given the small sample size, but it's worth noting that Atlanta offers up a 110 wRC+ to southpaws compared to a 99 versus right-handed pitching.

At any rate, neither one of those numbers are very good or becoming of a defending champion, so even the most preferred of matchups probably doesn't suit this struggling offense.

This is just about the worst scenario the Braves could run into as they try to build some momentum. Ynoa has never been a great starter, coming off a season where he posted a 4.27 xERA, his strikeouts were depressed in his first start and his walks elevated.

Against one of the most patient teams in the league, there should be baserunners, and against a team ranked just outside the top 10 in exit velocity, those problems with quality contact (43.3% career hard-hit rate) should come to the surface.

I have no choice here but to fade Ynoa and these bats in favor of Kershaw and the strongest offense in baseball. I'll side with the first five considering the Braves' bullpen likely has an edge here being so left-handed and rested, which could potentially pull them back into the game.

Pick: Dodgers First Five -0.5 (-138)

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