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NL West Pennant Chase: Los Angeles Dodgers vs Colorado Rockies

Friday begins a massive series in the NL West, as the Colorado Rockies host the Los Angeles Dodgers. Friday’s game is the first of six head-to-head meetings between these two teams in the month of September. The Dodgers are -146 favorites to win the series opener.

After looking up in the standings most of the season, the Rockies have taken over the top spot in the NL West over the past week. Colorado is 5-0 since the calendar flipped to September, opening up a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers and a 2-game lead over the Diamondbacks. Of course, 13 of their next 16 games come against those two teams, so they can either lose that lead quickly or extend their lead if they can stay hot.

The Dodgers have also gotten hot lately, winning nine of their last 12 games despite dropping two of three games to the Mets earlier this week. But since they are behind the Rockies in the division, the Dodgers are also involved in the crowded wild-card race. Los Angeles is currently two games behind the Cardinals for the second wild-card spot, so they may be better off focusing on winning the division.

Get Me the Ace

Clayton Kershaw will get the start for the Dodgers in Friday’s series opener. Kershaw has quietly put together an outstanding campaign even if he’s not mentioned among the Cy Young contenders. In 21 starts, he’s 6-5 with a 2.40 ERA. He’s been even better than that during the second half of the season, going 3-1 with a 1.94 ERA in his last eight starts.

Oddly enough, this will be his first start against the Rockies this season. He’s also had trouble with several Colorado hitters during his career. Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, and Gerardo Parra are all hitting over .300 against Kershaw and all have at least 38 at-bats against him. D.J. LeMahieu and Chris Iannetta have also fared surprisingly well against the southpaw. Kershaw should also be wary of Trevor Story, who’s 12 for his last 24 with five home runs and three doubles during that span.

Guess Who Else Brought an Ace?

Jon Gray, Colorado’s starter on Friday has also been giving an ace-like performance the second half of the season. Since the all-star break, he’s 3-0 with a 3.33 ERA in eight starts, a drastic improvement from the first half and sound numbers for a pitcher who’s at Coors Field half the time.

Alas, Gray has had his problems when facing the Dodgers. He allowed four runs on eight hits over 5.2 innings when the Rockies hosted the Dodgers last month. To be fair, he has strong career numbers against Matt Kemp, Yasmani Grandal, and Joc Pederson. However, Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig tend to give him trouble. Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, and Chris Taylor have also done damage in small-sample-sizes.

Staying Hot

The Rockies have been hot lately, and they figure to stay that way, even against Kershaw, who’s had his problems with Colorado. Gray may not be that trustworthy either given his history against the Dodgers. But in a high-scoring game, I’ll favor the red-hot Rockies at home. Bet on the Rockies +146 to beat the Dodgers on Friday.

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