It’s the final day of the first half of the season, and a pair of division leaders are closing with a fury have opened up some pretty impressive gaps in divisions that have been tight all season long. The Dodgers run has gotten a lot of attention, and their six and a half game lead isn’t terribly surprising. But the Brewers are also 8-2 over their last ten games, even with yesterday’s walk off loss in the Bronx, and stand 4 ½ games clear of the Cubs with a chance to widen the gap to 5 ½ if Jimmy Nelson can keep up his winning ways and Jamison Taillon can out duel Jon Lester (his ERA is more than a full run lower).
Meanwhile, I’m looking to close stronger after a tough streak leading up to the All-Star Break. We dropped a third straight with Jake Arrieta unable to outduel the slumping Ivan Nova, or perhaps more accurately, the Cubs lineup unable to hold up their end of the bargain, in a 4-2 loss to the Pirates.
Let’s close it out strong tonight.
Today’s MLB Pick:
Kansas City Royals +250 at Los Angeles Dodgers -300 (Total: 7.5)
Danny Duffy (5-4, 3.51 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (13-2, 2.19 ERA)
What better way to close out the season that backing the best pitcher on Earth playing with the hottest team in the league pitching in his home ballpark?? You can look for flaws in Clayton Kershaw if you want, but you are going to have to harken back to postseasons of yore in order to do so. The greatest regular season pitcher in modern baseball is at it again this season. He had a lousy outing against the Mets four starts ago. Take that anomaly out of the mix, and he has one or fewer runs in his last seven starts. Oh, and by the way, since that bad outing?? He hasn’t allowed a SINGLE RUN. Twenty innings, thirty one strikeouts. NO RUNS. That is some dominant stuff.
Batters are hitting .191 against Kershaw this season and the Dodgers are twelve straight starts with him on the mound and 15 of 16 overall. The guy is an ATM machine, spitting out money every time he starts. However, at -300, there isn’t a ton of value. So how about the runline? Well, Kershaw is still a good bet, but there have been plenty of one run games in the mix when his offense didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. They are 11-7 on the runline with him pitching this season (which also includes his two losses, obviously). They are 11-5 runline in games Kershaw was himself and earned the win.
Meanwhile, The Royals Danny Duffy has a solid ERA, especially for the American League, and his team has won four of his last five starts. However, they are just 5-5 in his last ten and his .270 ERA portends some difficulty today against the mashing Dodgers lineup. It is a pretty big jump in value for the runline, as you can get the Dodgers as low as -140. That seems like a pretty good value for a game that has 6-1 written all over it…
We won’t get to see Kershaw in the All-Star Game because of today’s start, so enjoy his greatness today instead at 4pm Eastern. I expect him to flirt with carrying an awesome scoreless innings streak into the second half of the season.
Today’s MLB Pick: LOS ANGELES DODGERS RUNLINE -1.5 (-140)