The Los Angeles Dodgers are in New York Saturday for game two of a three-game series with the Mets. The Dodgers took game one 5-2 behind a grand slam home run from Cody Bellinger. Alex wood was also solid for the Dodgers as he pitched six innings and picked up the win for Los Angeles. The Dodgers were enjoying a very strong month of June before slipping up a bit this week. The Dodgers had lost three out of their last four games before picking up the win in game one. The Mets have lost four straight games and are fresh off of losing their last series three games to one to the Colorado Rockies.
Tonight’s starting pitching matchup is a blockbuster one. For the Dodgers, they turn to their ace, Clayton Kershaw (1-4 2.76 ERA) and for the Mets, it is their ace, Jacob deGrom (5-2 1.51 ERA). The Dodgers are -120 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at six and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:15 PM PST from Citi Field in New York City.
I love Clayton Kershaw. He is likely the best pitcher of his generation, when healthy. But sadly, for Kershaw, staying healthy seems to be something he just can’t seem to do anymore. Kershaw has had back problems the last several years and keeps on missing time. He is coming off the disabled list for this game after missing a month with lower back tightness. Kershaw passed up on making a rehab start tonight and is jumping straight to the big leagues with no prep at all.
Betting against Clayton Kershaw is something that historically has never worked out very well. But this season? Had you bet against Kershaw every game you would be up a bunch of money. The Dodgers have lost six of his eight starts this season, despite being heavy favorites in each game. It really hasn’t been his fault as he has pitched decent, but this isn’t the same Clayton Kershaw that has invoked terror into opposing lineups over the course of the last decade.
In his last start, against the Phillies. Kershaw was returning from the disabled list after missing a month with an injury. He pitched just five innings, picked up the loss and headed straight back to the disabled list. Sounds eerily familiar tonight, doesn’t it? And the fact that they have rushed him back without even letting him loosen up in the minors tells me that we just can’t expect great things from Kershaw tonight.
Could he go out and pitch lights out and dominate this soft hitting Mets team? Of course, he could. Could he also go out and pitch three innings and pull up lame and get yanked from the game? Absolutely. Kershaw is the man, but until he can show me he is really healthy, I have no choice but to look to fade him.
One guy that I can certainly expect great things from tonight is Mets starter Jacob deGrom. deGrom is having what could turn out to be a historic season. He is pitching at a level right now that has not been seen in a long time. In his last eleven starts, he has an ERA of 0.91. That is absurd. His last seven starts have been even better as he has pitched at least seven innings in each start and has only allowed seven runs in fifty-one innings of work with sixty-two punch outs.
The Mets are struggling to support deGrom with runs, but what he has done is borderline unheard of. Only one pitcher this millennium has had a start to a season as strong as this one. That was Randy Johnson in 2000. Getting compared to the Big Unit is always good company. Even the rarefied air of Coors Field couldn’t stop deGrom in his last start as he threw eight innings and gave up only one earned run against the Rockies. At home this season. deGrom has sixty-seven strikeouts in just forty-six innings of work, truly remarkable.
Jacob deGrom should never be an underdog to anybody right now. You can pencil this guy in right now for at least seven innings of work and one or no runs allowed. That is just how good he has been this year. As for Kershaw? He is likely to look rusty and not have his best stuff. And even if he does, the Dodgers are very likely to keep him on a short leash as they don’t want to risk sending him back to the disabled list.
Getting anything more than five innings out of Kershaw in this one would be very surprising. It is a sad story to share, but with all of his injuries, Kershaw hasn’t pitched more than six innings since April 20th. I know he is an all-time great, but you just can’t expect him to jump right in and get deep into this game.
This is a tough spot. The Mets stink, and the Dodgers are playing some good ball recently. But with all the doubt about Kershaw and the fact that deGrom is pitching on another level right now, I have to back the home team. This game has 3-2 written all over it, and I just don’t see deGrom backing down from this challenge tonight. Give me the New York Mets as home dogs tonight at +110!