Now THIS is what I’m talking about. Post-season baseball with a pair of big market teams, a roster full of marquee names and two absolute aces on the mound. None of this “Yordano Ventura vs. Colin McHugh” stuff in Game One (seriously, worst Game One pitching matchup in recent memory, right?? Combined ERA over eight??). Nope. Tonight in the final game of a full four game slate we get BIG TIME. Clayton Kershaw attempting to exercise his postseason demons, the only glaring blemish on an already-Hall of Fame resume. Jacob deGrom trying to build on a sparkling season highlighted by a dominant frame in another high-pressure situation, the All Star Game.
How good is this pitching matchup? Vegas has the run total at a super-slim 5.5.
So will the hyped pitcher’s duel deliver? Or will we get one of those October oddities where you can throw all conventional wisdom out the window?
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Today’s Free Pick:
New York Mets +187 at Los Angeles Dodgers -200 (Total: 5.5)
Jacob deGrom vs. Clayton Kershaw
Let’s get the obvious elephant in the room addressed early. Clayton Kershaw is one of the best pitchers ever to live… but… yeah, the postseason resume is bizarrely bad. His postseason ERA is 5.12. And, lest we go “but it’s a small sample size” it does cover 11 starts. If you want to go just the past two years, after he had already evolved into the pitcher he IS, the ERA is close to six over six starts and 35 innings. Am I convinced he CAN’T pitch in the postseason? Not even close. I wouldn’t be surprised if he threw a 14-strikout out complete game shutout. But does the consistent short comings of year’s past at least give me pause befrore plunking down 2/1 juice on the Dodgers tonight? You better believe it.
Enter Jacob deGrom. While everyone picks through Kershaw’s flaws and stumbles, the pressure of a Game One start on the road is slightly alleviated from the talented young hurler. His ERA is a little high over his last three starts at 4.20, but keep in mind, the Mets were being conservative with his innings and he likely knew he was on a bit of a pitch governor. Despite allowing a few runs, he still threw up a 22 K to 2 BB split – almost 1.5 K’s per inning. If he can miss some bats tonight, and I think he will, he has a good chance to give his team a chance to win.
I don’t trust the Dodger bullpen. It’s a big reason why I have the Cubs at a juicy 12:1 as my NL pick. If deGrom can keep this game within a run or two, there is a good chance the Mets will get a few swings off a pen that allows nearly a 4.00 ERA.
Could the Dodgers cruise behind Kershaw? Sure. But at -200 or more?? That seems like an absurd price to pay against a really, really good pitcher in deGrom. I’ll take the value play here, and that is what it is more than a “prediction” – it’s a value play. The value is clearly with the Mets tonight at +187.