MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Giants vs. Dodgers: Can San Francisco Hit Clayton Kershaw? (Sunday, May 30)

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Giants vs. Dodgers: Can San Francisco Hit Clayton Kershaw? (Sunday, May 30) article feature image

Norm Hall/Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Gausman #34 of the San Francisco Giants.

  • The Giants and Dodgers close out their four-game series Sunday afternoon.
  • The Dodgers are favorites in the game with Clayton Kershaw on the mound, Michael Arinze thinks Kevin Gausman and the Giants are undervalued.
  • Check out his full game preview and betting pick below.

Giants vs. Dodgers Odds

Giants Odds+150
Dodgers Odds-178
Time4:10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Sunday morning and via FanDuel.

The Giants and Dodgers wrap up a pivotal four-game series in Los Angeles on Sunday. Last weekend, L.A. swept a three-game series in San Francisco — outscoring them 19-9.

The Giants can exact some revenge of their own this time around by securing the series win with another victory. They'll send Kevin Gausman to the mound in the finale, and Clayton Kershaw will oppose him for the Dodgers. Kershaw will be the second left-handed starter the Giants will have faced in as many days.

That subtle nuance could end up being a favorable factor for the Giants in the ballgame. You might also be surprised to learn that Kershaw hasn't exactly been automatic against the Giants at home recently.

Parity Among Top Teams In NL West

It wasn't that long ago that the Giants seemed as if they would run away with the division. The Dodgers and Padres beat up on one another in two competitive series, thus allowing the Giants to pick up some games in the win column.

Now, both L.A. and San Diego have gotten hot, with the Padres winning eight of their last 10 games while the Dodgers have won seven of their last 10. San Francisco now finds itself in second place in the division — 1.5 games behind the Padres and one game ahead of the Dodgers.

This race could go right down to the wire as no other division has three teams that are at least 10 games over .500. But perhaps what's most impressive is that all three teams are at least +60 in run differential.

I think you can throw out any preconceived notions you might have of either of the aforementioned clubs. None of these teams can throw their gloves out on the field and expect to beat the other. The margins are razor-thin, which makes underdogs in these matchups even more valuable.

Don't Sleep On Gausman

Gausman and the Giants opened somewhere around as +151 underdog. That's not something you'd normally see for a pitcher who has yet to lose a decision this season.

The right-hander comes into this game with an unblemished record at 5-0. He's fourth in all of baseball with a 1.53 ERA, and he's ranked sixth with a 0.85 WHIP. His 2.32 FIP is also impressive, meaning that any regression by Gausman will likely be tamed.

If you look at his career numbers, two things stand out this season more than any other: His 2.23 BB/9 ratio is a career-best, and his 0.56 HR/9 ties a career-best. It can be that simple at times in baseball if you're able to limit your walks and home runs allowed.

Normally, batters tend to do better when hitting against the fastball, but that hasn't been the case when facing Gausman. Hitters are batting just .161 against his four-seamer with a .218 wOBA.

There might not be a pitcher in baseball who works off his fastball better than Gausman. His first-pitch strike rate (61.7%) is the second-best mark of his career, and he's been able to back that pitch up with a devastating splitter which batters only hitting .150 against with a .183 wOBA.

Kevin Gausman, 94mph Fastball and 85mph Splitter, Individual Pitches + Overlay

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 26, 2021

Gausman's four-seamer and his splitter are the two most thrown pitches in his arsenal at 51.1% and 35.7%. He'll occasionally mix in a slider (7.9%) and a changeup (5.3%) just for good measure.

Giants Love The Southpaws

At just 33 years of age, Kershaw is already in his 14th season in the majors, and it doesn't appear that he's missed a step. This season, Kershaw is 7-3 with a 2.94 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. The Dodgers also won his last four starts though his turn did not come up in the rotation last weekend when both teams faced one another.

This is a completely different Giants team than the one he faced last year, considering that Buster Posey opted out of playing. He's back with the team this season and looks rejuvenated after taking the year off. Posey leads the team in hits (41), slugging percentage (.613), and he's second in home runs (10).

One thing the Giants have had success against is hitting left-handed pitching. Since the 2020 season, they're first in home runs (55) and second with a wRC+ value of 122. This season, they have a .251/.342/.442 line against lefties compared to a .223/.309/.402 line against right-handers.

If you were going to fade Kershaw, the Giants would probably be one of the teams very high atop your list. San Francisco can also make him work, given their discipline at the plate. It's one of only six teams with a double-digit walk rate (105.%).

While I think they have a legitimate chance against the future Hall of Famer, I suspect they'll also fancy their chances against a Dodgers bullpen that's blown the most saves in the league (14).

To sum things up, there are enough factors that can go against the Dodgers in this game to make you think twice about backing them as a lofty favorite.

Giants-Dodgers Pick

Baseball is so unique in that it's an individual game played inside a team sport. Many aspects can impact a game, such as a bullpen, situational matchups, lefty-righty splits, and much more. The best team doesn't always win because teams can lose up to 70 games in a season and still be revered.

To simplify the handicapping process, I compare my line to what's available in the market, and that's how I assess the value in a matchup.

Kershaw and the Dodgers are as high as a -198 favorite. That carries an implied probability of 66.44%. This number's just too high for me against a Giants' team whose bats have come alive with 19 runs in their last two games. San Francisco also won't have to do much to change its approach in this series finale after facing another Dodgers left-hander just on Saturday.

When facing a southpaw for the second-straight game, the Giants are 109-100 but +17.44 units during that span. In addition, since 2017, the Giants are 6-8 against Kershaw, yet they're still +7.25 units due to some inflated moneylines.

In fact, they've been even better against him at Dodgers stadium during that time as they're 5-2 for +10.14 units.

My model makes the Dodgers no more than a -150 favorite in this is a spot. As a result, I'm much more inclined to side with the Giants in this matchup.

FanDuel had the best price on the board with San Francisco at +168, so I grabbed the Giants at that number, but I like the value on their moneyline down to +140.

Pick: Giants ML (+150)

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