Coming off Tuesday’s 5-1 victory in Game 1, the Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to go up 2-0 against the San Diego Padres in this five-game series Wednesday night.
Game 2 will see LA’s left-hander Clayton Kershaw on the mound, while the Padres are likely to continue their heavy bullpen usage as they have used at least eight pitchers in all four postseason games thus far. Kershaw is coming off an eight-inning scoreless gem against the Brewers, which included thirteen strikeouts, a career-high mark in his rocky postseason career.
Pitching: The Known vs. the Unknown
Kershaw’s career arc up to this point shows he’s one of the best pitchers of the last decade, though true postseason success has eluded him up to this point. A career 10-11 in the playoffs with a 4.37 ERA, many consider Kershaw incapable of getting over the hump and leading his team to a championship.
However, Kershaw has been brilliant in this abbreviated season, going 6-2 with a 2.16 ERA and 0.84 WHIP. He carried the momentum over into the playoffs with his sterling effort against the Brewers, and the Dodgers line reflects that.
A starter has not yet been announced for San Diego, although no starting pitcher has gone past two innings so far in their four playoff games. When faced with a situation like this as a bettor, you turn your attention to the opposing pitcher and the bats.
We’ve touched on the appeal of riding with Kershaw already, so let’s examine the real draw of these two teams: the explosive firepower at the plate.
Power Potential at the Plate
Game 1’s turning point was the bottom of the sixth inning when Los Angeles blew the game open with four runs, batted around, and forced three different pitchers to come out of the bullpen for San Diego.
There’s a reason the Dodgers are World Series favorites after a 43-17 regular season, and it’s the game-wrecking potential their batters have. They led the MLB in home runs, with 118, and were second in RBIs with 327. Their hitters hadn’t caught fire in either of their first two games of postseason play, but last night shows how quickly they can turn a game on its head.
San Diego is no slouch at the plate. Led by their stars, Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis, the Padres are no stranger to the long ball, coming in slightly behind LA in the regular season with 95 homers of their own.
San Diego has the same explosive ability from their hitters, evidenced by their Game 2 win in the Wild Card series when they piled on nine runs in a three-inning stretch to take the pivotal game.
Going up against Kershaw, San Diego will need to tap into their power.
This postseason against lefties, the Padres are hitting .332 but have yet to knock a home run. The regular season was a similar story, with only 28% of their home runs coming against southpaws.
The pick for Game 2
San Diego is an exciting team with a young core, but their slugging tends to dip when facing a lefty, and as Kershaw is one of the league’s best, the Dodgers moneyline is the better play. Consider taking LA at -1.5 runs as they look to continue their hitting momentum from Tuesday.