Dodgers at Braves Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 5/18/2013
Can Zack Greinke save the Los Angeles Dodgers' season? It's tough for any pitcher to save a season when he only takes the mound every five days. However, when you already have Clayton Kershaw atop your rotation and can slide a very good Greinke into No. 2, you feel good about winning their starts every time out. Thus, if the Dodgers can just win one of the other three starters' outings each time around, that's .600 baseball. Playing .600 baseball would lead three of the MLB divisions right now, including the Dodgers' NL West.
When Greinke broke his collarbone during an April 11 game against San Diego, the Dodgers would go on to win to improve to 6-3. Greinke was projected to miss anywhere from 6-8 weeks, but he returned Wednesday -- just 34 days later; the Dodgers were 10-19 in his absence -- and allowed just a run in 5.1 innings as Los Angeles beat Washington. The Dodgers would win the next night to take the series -- their second straight -- heading into Friday's series opener in Atlanta. The Dodgers desperately need Greinke because the back end of their rotation is a mess due to injuries and simply bad pitching, including by Saturday night's starter, lefty Chris Capuano.
The Braves looked like perhaps baseball's best team for a while, off to a 17-9 start. They even became World Series betting favorites for a while. However, Atlanta is 5-9 since then, entering this series and has lost five of six and back-to-back series.
Dodgers at Braves Betting Story Lines
It looks like the Dodgers may have moved from Brandon League to Kenley Jansen as their closer; why L.A. gave League a three-year, $22.5 million deal this offseason baffled many people. Don Mattingly isn't saying who his official closer is, but look at the numbers: Jansen has a 2.11 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and has struck out 29 in 21.1 innings. He got the save in Tuesday's game. League, who did save Wednesday's game, has a 5.87 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and just seven strikeouts in 15.1 innings. Batters are hitting .279 off him compared to .195 off Jansen. Maybe Mattingly will just pick and choose his spots with the duo.
Atlanta used to have the best bullpen in baseball with Jonny Venters setting up Craig Kimbrel. Venters underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery this week, and Kimbrel has three blown saves and a 3.14 ERA, which is high for a closer. Kimbrel has actually alternated a blown save and a save in his past six appearances.
Some great news for the Dodgers is that Matt Kemp's average continues to climb, although he's still not hitting for power. Kemp is hitting .321 this month and brings a 14-game hitting streak into this series. We all know that Atlanta's Justin Upton is likely the leading NL MVP candidate, but it's rather baffling the team is struggling as a whole since all-star catcher Brian McCann made his season debut May 6. McCann has started strong, hitting .296 with three homers and 10 RBI. The Braves are also expecting outfielder Jason Heyward back for this series. He has been out since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on April 23. He was hitting .121 with two homers and five RBI. If activated, he might not start Saturday's game against the lefty Capuano as Heyward hits from the left side.
Capuano (1-2, 6.60) has spent some time on the disabled list this season but had his best start of the year last time out, holding the Marlins to a run in 6.1 innings while striking out seven. Again, though, consider the opposition. Capuano started twice in 2012 against Atlanta, going 1-0 with a 2.51 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 14 innings. Upton is hitting .357 with a homer in 14 career at-bats against Capuano.
The Braves trot out right-hander Kris Medlen (1-5, 3.44) on Saturday. Remember last year when Medlen was arguably the NL's best pitcher in the season's final few months? He's not that guy so far in 2012. He was roughed up for five runs (three homers) and eight hits in 5.1 innings in a loss to San Francisco last time out. Walks have been a problem this year, and he gave five free passes to the Giants. Medlen had just a spot relief stint against L.A. last year, throwing two-thirds of an inning. He's 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA against the Dodgers career. Hanley Ramirez is the only Dodger with a homer off Medlen, but he's on the DL. Kemp is 1-for-7 against him with four strikeouts.
Dodgers at Braves Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the Braves opened at -171 and the Dodgers at +161 with the total at 7.5. All trends entering Friday: The Dodgers are 22-14-3 “over/under” (7-6-2 on road) and 16-23 on runline. The Braves are 23-16-1 O/U (7-7 at home) and 20-20 on the runline.
The Dodgers are 3-8 in their past 11 against right-handed starters. L.A. is 5-0 in Capuano's past five Saturday starts. The Dodgers are 2-7 in Capuano's past nine starts against teams with a winning record. The Braves are 5-2 in their past seven home games against lefty starters. Atlanta is 10-1 in Medlen's past 11 home starts against teams with a losing record. The Braves are 14-3 in Medlen's past 17 home starts overall. The over is 6-1 in the Dodgers' past seven Game 2s of a series. The over is 5-2 in Capuano's past seven starts in a Game 2. The over is 4-1 in Atlanta's past five against lefty starters. The over is 5-0-1 in Medlen's past six Saturday starts. The under is 5-0 in the past five meetings.
Dodgers at Braves Picks and Betting Predictions
This is L.A.'s only visit to Atlanta, with the Braves heading to Dodger Stadium in early June. Last season the teams split three games, with the Dodgers winning two in “Hotlanta”. The Braves recent struggles were partly due to a tough 10-game road trip. I expect their fortunes to change now that they are back home. I have no faith in Capuano, either. Take Atlanta and the over. I do like L.A. on the runline at -135.
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