Separated by just a half game in the National League West, the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers begin a crucial three-game series in LA tonight. Which way are we leaning with our MLB picksin the series opener?
Right now it's a two-horse race in the division, with the
Dodgers holding the narrow lead. There's also the Arizona Diamondbacks, but
they're lurking about 4.5 games back.
So we'll say it again: this is a highly important series
that could very well decide how the rest of the season pans out.
The Dodgers are current favorites on the MLB odds board at
-147, while the Giants are listed at +145. The total is at a miniscule number
of six and you'll see why after reading on.
The Dodgers are 7-3 over their last ten games and have won
two straight heading into the opener.
Everything seems to be clicking now that L.A. has tinkered
and added to their batting lineup and it certainly helps that this Dodgers
pitching staff has been lights out lately.
Clayton Kershaw is leading the way and gets the call
tonight. He's 11-6 with a 2.90 ERA and 1.01 WHIP on the year, but more
importantly he's won four straight starts ahead of this matchup with the
At home Kershaw has gone 6-3 with a 2.27 ERA in 13 starts.
You've also got to love his results against San Francisco this season: 23.0
innings, 18 hits, four earned runs and 22 strikeouts against only four walks.
His latest assignment against the Giants was in fact his
best start of the entire year. He pitched a complete-game five-hitter with
seven strikeouts and just one walk in a 4-0 win.
Despite having to deal with the fallout from Melky Cabrera's
failed drug test and subsequent attempted cover-up, the Giants have won five of
eight and are coming off a series win on the road over San Diego.
Plus, while Kershaw has indeed been dominant this season,
San Francisco will be liking their chances given Madison Bumgarner gets the
Bumgarner is 13-7 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.01 WHIP this season,
very similar numbers to Kershaw. However, most of his dominance has come at
home – in 13 away starts the 23-year old is 5-6 with a 4.06 ERA.
He's been pretty good away from San Fran recently though.
Bumgarner surrendered three or fewer runs in three straight road starts. Two of
those assignments were against quality teams (Washington and St. Louis) and one
was in the thin air of Coors Field.
Bumgarner is 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA in three August starts and
will try to keep momentum high in L.A. tonight.
You couldn't ask for a better pitchers duel. In the end
though, I'm picking Los Angeles to win at home behind Kershaw, who as we noted
has been spectacular at Dodger Stadium.
It's also been great to see Hanley Ramirez find new life in
Los Angeles. He's batting .343 so far in August and has raised his overall
batting average to .261 for the season. His presence has also opened things up
for Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the three and five spots.
But back to Kershaw. He's the main reason I like the Dodgers
tonight. He's dominated a number of these Giants hitters in the past, such as
Hunter Pence (.056), Buster Posey (.214), Pablo Sandoval (.250) and Angel Pagan
(.250). And he doesn't have to deal with Melky anymore.
If you enjoy quality pitching, you won't want to miss this MLB
matchup. However, when it comes time to place my MLB picks, I believe L.A. may just squeak out
My MLB Pick: Play the Dodgers -147