Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers Odds, Preview, Prediction: Madison Bumgarner Faces Familar Foe in LA (Monday, May 17)

Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers Odds, Preview, Prediction: Madison Bumgarner Faces Familar Foe in LA (Monday, May 17) article feature image
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Norm Hall/Getty Images. Pictured: Madison Bumgarner

  • The Dodgers and Diamondbacks meet on Monday in LA the the beginning of an NL West series.
  • Madison Bumgarner is familiar with LA from his time first with the Giants and now in Arizona.
  • Michael Arinze breaks down the series opener and makes his betting prediction below.

Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers Odds

Diamondbacks Odds +180
Dodgers Odds -220
Over/Under 7 (+105 / -127)
Time 10:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Monday morning and via DraftKings.

It’s been a very uneven year for the Los Angeles Dodgers. After posting a .717 win percentage last year en route to a World Series title, the Dodgers came into this season with the highest win total in baseball at 102.5.

However, things haven’t gone as planned as they’re in third place in the NL West and just four games above .500 at 22-18.

Los Angeles has performed a bit better at home (12-6) than when they’re on the road (10-12). Part of that is due to their current homestand, in which they’ve won four out of five games against the Mariners and the Marlins.

They’ll finish the homestand with a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Arizona has actually been better than its 18-23 record would suggest. Especially when you consider it has been without multiple key players in their lineup for much of the season. That’s likely why the Dodgers are as high as a -220 favorite in the series opener.

But what if I told you there’s a way you could back the Diamondbacks and still not hate yourself in the morning?

Let’s break it all down as we preview this matchup.

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MadBum Has Regained His Powers

Madison Bumgarner will get the start for Arizona in the series opener. The left-hander is off to a 4-2 start with a 4.12 ERA. However, his 3.41 FIP suggests he’s pitched even better than his current ERA — thus making him a candidate to experience some positive regression.

Bumgarner’s been able to bounce back after a disastrous 2020 campaign where he went 1-4 with a 6.48 ERA during the pandemic-shortened season. I suspect that part of his futility was due to a loss in velocity. He averaged 88.3 mph on his four-seam fastball, which was 3.3 mph slower than in his previous season. The loss in velocity affected his cutter even more, which was 3.9 mph slower than the 2019 season (87.4 mph).

This season, Bumgarner has regained much of that velocity as his average fastball (90.9 mph) is 2.6 mph faster while his cutter (86.2 mph) is 2.7 mph.

The cutter has actually been his most-used pitch this season (37.4%). That could be key against a Los Angeles team that’s ranked 27th (seven runs below average) when facing the pitch. The fact that he’s a southpaw could also work to his advantage. The Dodgers have a .217/.313/.346 line against left-handers compared to .259/.362/.431 against right-handers.

Bumgarner has plenty of experience against Los Angeles, given that he’s pitched in the NL West his entire career. The current Dodgers lineup has 135 at-bats against him, but he’s been able to limit them to a .237 AVG and .293 OBP.

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Buehler Has Sacrificed Power For Efficiency

Walker Buehler must be the West Coast version of Jacob DeGrom. He’s pitched at least six innings in all seven starts this year but has only won one decision. And five of those seven outings have actually been quality starts. His current record stands at 1-0 with a 3.45 ERA and 0.90 WHIP.

Buehler seems to have recovered from a blister injury that prevented him from pitching deeper into games last season. That could be the reason why he’s been able to reduce his BB/9 ratio from 2.70 last year to 0.61 this season. His improved command has led to more swings inside the zone (70.7%) which is up from 66.3% in the previous year.

He has had a slight dip in velocity as his fastball averaged 96.8 mph last season compared to 95.5 mph this year. In fact, the slight loss in velocity is noticeable across the board for all his pitches. Even his K/9 ratio is down from 10.31 in 2020 to 9.54 in 2021. This could be a deliberate move on his part to sacrifice some velocity to pitch to more contact go deeper into games.

If that’s true, it would allow hitters to have better swings against him, which we also see in the stats.

If hitters put the ball in play against him this season, their BABIP is .261 vs. .198 last year.

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Diamondbacks-Dodgers Pick

The good news for Buehler is that he’s yet to lose a decision. Sometimes in baseball, you can pitch well enough and still lose, but that hasn’t been the case for him. In many cases, he’s just not getting a ton of runs early in his games.

It won’t surprise me if we see something similar on Monday night against Bumgarner and the Diamondbacks.

Arizona has gotten some production out of Eduardo Escobar and David Peralta. Escobar leads the team with nine home runs while Peralta has punched in 28 RBI.

Third-year player Josh Rojas has also done a nice job filling in for some of their injured players. He’s batting .282 with a .352 OBP and has already connected on five home runs.

I think Arizona can at least keep things close in the first five innings against Buehler with Bumgarner on the mound.

I mentioned how Buehler has managed to win just one of his decisions. What you might not know is that he’s yet to cover a run line (0-7) in the first five innings this season.

We can take advantage of this by playing the run line in the first five innings at +0.5 / +100. A tie or an Arizona lead after five will be enough to cash our ticket.

That seems like the best option available, especially if we want to avoid relying on a Diamondbacks bullpen with the 28th-worst ERA (5.36) in the league.

Pick: Diamondbacks F5 RL +0.5 (+100)

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