The Rundown’s MLB Bet of the Night: Back Dodgers to Take NL West Lead
Denis Poroy/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Turner and Corey Seager.
To say there is a lot at stake during this weekend’s series between the Dodgers and Giants would be a pretty big understatement.
These two teams come in tied atop the NL West with an MLB-best record of 85-49. If that doesn’t convince you they’re evenly matched, maybe this will: Across their 16 games against each other this season, each team has won eight times and scored exactly 68 runs. You read that right — the cumulative score of this season series is 68-68.
Something’s gotta give. While tonight’s game and the weekend’s series — the last between these two rivals in the regular season — is bound to be close, I believe the team from L.A. has the slight advantage as the road team.
The last time we saw these squads clash was just before the trade deadline in late July, when the Giants took two of three at Oracle Park. While both have continued to assert their dominance over the rest of the league since then, a lot has changed as well. Each team acquired an offensive superstar: Los Angeles got Trea Turner from the Nationals, while San Francisco picked up Kris Bryant from the Cubs.
Both have been excellent additions to their teams, but the bigger difference-maker has been Turner. Since starting his first game in Dodger blue on August 7, the 28-year-old is batting .323 with 18 runs scored, five stolen bases, and just a 14.9% strikeout rate. Over that period, L.A. is 20-4 and joined S.F. in first place of the division.
The Giants are 16-8 over that same period, which certainly isn’t bad, but the more pressing concern for them is that over half of their losses have come in the last week: Prior to a much-needed win over Milwaukee on Thursday, San Fran had lost five of its previous six contests. Granted, they went through the ringer facing the Braves and Brewers, — division leaders in their own right — but ruts like that can be tough to break out of, especially when facing top competition.
The fact that the Giants played yesterday and the Dodgers didn’t should also help Los Angeles. Both teams have elite bullpens, and L.A.’s has had a day off to be fully rested ahead of this series. San Francisco’s, however, has gotten a decent amount of work over the last couple days. Tyler Rogers, one of the breakout arms in this group, pitched the last two games, so he likely wouldn’t be available tonight.
Which leads us to the starting pitching matchup. David Price has been serviceable (at best) lately, but the Dodgers’ strategy is likely to let the bullpen bail him out anyway. They’re also probably counting on taking advantage of Anthony Desclafani, who hasn’t been good recently either to the tune of a 4.50 ERA and 1.9 HR/9 over his last 10 starts. More notable, however, is how bad he has been against Los Angeles, allowing multiple runs in every outing against them, including 10 (!) the first time they faced off. For the entire campaign, he shows a ghastly 9.43 ERA, 2.05 WHIP, and 2.6 HR/9 against L.A.
Assuming the Dodgers tee off on him again, they should have no problem jumping out to an early lead. From there, their bullpen can take the reins and guide them to a division lead over their in-state rivals by night’s end.
Pick: Dodgers -118 (FanDuel)