When the Dodgers and Giants get together there is always a different kind of mood in the air in this series. They’re typically close games that feature a plethora of good pitching. Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner have been at the center of some good pitching matchups in this rivalry. They duel again this afternoon in San Francisco, where the circumstances surrounding the starts aren’t as familiar as we have seen in the past. I’m alluding to the stat lines here in this game. Most prominently, Clayton Kershaw who seems to be suffering from a hangover after his Cy Young performance from 2014. Fans expecting an encore performance from Kershaw have been left waiting for him to have that dominating outing which has become so familiar to us in his career. Kershaw had two years of playing sub-2.00 ERA baseball, a 1.83 in 2013 and somehow he bested that with a 1.77 ERA last season. 2015? 4.24 ERA. Of course there is still a long ways to go, and that 4.24 isn’t set in stone like 2013 and 2014 is. He does however have some work to do if he wants to have an ERA below the 2.00 mark for three consecutive years.
Madison Bumgarner to a lesser extent has had an off start to his 2015 campaign, another hangover of sorts after what he did in the postseason. It was quite the ride for Bumgarner, who went to a good pitcher to one of the best postseason pitchers of all time. The attention was undeniable after they won it, and big expectations were given in the following season. Thus far Bumgarner has been good, just not locking games down like he was doing in the postseason. Different circumstances for sure, but will a duel with Kershaw be good enough to get those competitive juices flowing again? The Dodger bats have been cold here lately, so perhaps that helps some as well. And it is not like we should be throwing Kershaw and Bumgarner out to pasture. They’re still great pitchers that I suspect will make big turnarounds as we get to the summer.
L.A. Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants
Clayton Kershaw (2-2, 4.24 ERA) vs. Madison Bumgarner (4-2, 3.20 ERA)
The total of 6 wouldn’t make much sense if you are just taking a look at the numbers for Kershaw and Bumgarner. By looking at the names pitching, yes that looks about right. Also, the low scoring nature of Dodger and Giant games leads to low totals as well. Lastly, it would be difficult to set a high total in any Dodger game before they show some life at the plate, which is pretty inexcusable for their lineup. The Dodgers have been held scoreless the last two games, and in the last four have only scored two runs total. They’ve been unable to score more than a run in a game in that stretch. The Giants love to get teams in those kind of games, which they are usually on the winning end of. Bumgarner has put together some good games lately, as he has an ERA of 2.33 in his last three starts, coupled with a 0.93 WHIP and .231 OBP.
Kershaw’s splits are going to make you raise your eyebrows. A 2-2 record with a 4.24 ERA and 1.24 WHIP is not very Kershaw like. However, all it’ll take is a few great starts in a row and Kershaw will be right back in the driver seat. Kershaw’s best starts this season came against the Giants, holding them to 2 runs and 10 hits in total. The UNDER is 19-5-2 in games in which Kershaw faces the Giants. I see both pitchers come full circle this afternoon, in what should be another low scoring game between the Dodgers and Giants.
PICK: UNDER 6 RUNS (-110)