The Los Angeles Dodgers are in Colorado Saturday for game three of a four-game series with the Rockies. The series is all tied up at one game apiece as the Dodgers came from behind to steal game one only to see the Rockies come from behind themselves to steal game two and tie the series up. Entering play tonight, the Dodgers are tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for first place in the National League West Division. The Rockies are lurking just behind both of those squads as they are just two and a half games back in third place. This is going to be a three-horse race down to the wire this season.
Starting tonight for the Rockies is Kyle Freeland (10-7 3.04 ERA), and for the Dodgers, it is Walker Buehler (5-4 3.63 ERA). The Dodgers are -134 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at eleven runs. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 PM PST from Coors Field in Colorado.
This has been a great series so far, as many expected it would be. Both games have been very competitive with each team staging a late-game comeback to win a game. This division race could not be much closer, as the top of the NL West is more crowded than any other division in baseball. A lot of people have pronounced the Rockies as dead in this race, but they showed last night that they don’t have an ounce of quit in them.
Kyle Freeland gets the start tonight for the Rockies, and he is one of the few guys in the history of Coors Field that seems to love pitching in the rarified air of the Rocky Mountains. This guy is posting Cy Young caliber stats in Colorado. At home this season, Freeland is 7-2 with a 2.18 ERA in ten starts. Those are great numbers anywhere, but at Coors Field, those are mind-bogglingly good.
In his last four starts at Coors Field, he is 3-0 and has allowed just three runs in twenty-five and a third innings of work. The Rockies have won each of those last four starts. Winning is something the Rockies have become accustomed to with Freeland on the mound as they have won six out of his last seven starts. He has made one starts against the Dodgers this season, and he pitched OK. He threw six and a third innings of work and gave up three runs, however, he didn’t receive any run support and picked up the hard-luck loss.
Walker Buehler has been a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers this season. The second-year guy has performed well above expectations in his time with the big ball club this year. He was really good to start the season, and his results have trailed off a bit recently as he may be hitting that rookie wall that plagues so many young guys. Through May, Buehler had a 2.20 ERA.
Since then, the young man has had his share of struggles. In June, he went 1-1 with a 7.94 ERA in three appearances and in July he went 0-2 with a 4.32 ERA in three starts. As is the case with many young pitchers they are much better in their home ballpark. That has certainly been the case for Buehler this season. In eight home starts this year, Buehler has an ERA of just 2.77. On the road? He ERA balloons all the way up to 5.26.
This is a simple case of home and away splits for me. Many handicappers don’t give the home team nearly enough credit for just being at home. While the Rockies haven’t been an elite home team this season, Kyle Freeland certainly has been. This guy has just figured out a way to pitch in the hardest ballpark in the major leagues and not get lit up, something very few pitchers have managed to do over the years.
Buehler has one start against the Rockies at home this season, the kid was great. He pitched seven innings of one-run ball and allowed just two hits. But in his one start in Colorado this year? He got hammered for four runs in just five innings of work and the Dodgers got blown out, 12-4.
We saw in the first two games of this series that these teams are very evenly matched right now and that both teams are playing hard and want to win. I just think that Freeland will be too good, and that Buehler will struggle in that thin air up in Colorado. To be able to back the Rockies at home as significant dogs is a ton of value that I just can’t pass up on today. Give me the Colorado Rockies as big home underdogs tonight in game three from Colorado at +124!