Clayton Kershaw looks to get back on track in Milwaukee at Miller Park on Friday night, as one of the best arms in MLB leads his Los Angeles Dodgers up against the Brewers. Los Angeles remains stuck in a logjam near the top of the NL West at 33-22, but a road win tonight could vault the Dodgers back into first place in the division.
Things are looking good for the Dodgers lately, as L.A. has overcome a slow start out of the gates and is right back in the thick of the race for the NL West. L.A. did get tripped up recently in a tough series with the St. Louis Cardinals, as they’ve dropped two straight and will hope to get back on track tonight.
All eyes will be on Kershaw, who was not himself in his last start, when he lasted just over four innings and coughed up 11 hits and four runs (three home runs) in a shaky performance against the Chicago Cubs.
Milwaukee continues to keep their heads above water on the other side, as the Brew Crew is fresh off of a tight win in New York over the Mets and come in with two straight wins behind them. Milwaukee has had some health woes and is just 4-6 over their last 10 games, but still look like a solid force atop the NL Central at 29-25.
Vegas doesn’t love Milwaukee to continue their solid play at home tonight and the easy money rests with the visiting Dodgers. There might be another play to target here, of course, so let’s take a closer look at this matchup and see what that might be:
Los Angeles Dodgers(-220)
We’re not getting cute here and picking the Brewers to stage the upset. They carry very nice value and are at home in a hitter’s park, but they’re down Ryan Braun and masher Eric Thames is right back into a hitting slump after dropping two consecutive studly performances earlier in the week.
The biggest reason why is obviously Kershaw, who understandably could be a little more vulnerable against an unfamiliar team in an explosive ballpark. That’s where the Kershaw doubt likely ends, even though he’s had some serious issues with the long ball in 2017 and is obviously coming off a poor outing against another dangerous NL Central foe.
There isn’t much reason to defy Kershaw here, however, as he’s notoriously stingy and this year alone has been awesome at bouncing back from shaky performances. We’ve seen it happen without error three times, as the 29-year old lefty has bounced back with elite production after every single outing where he’s allowed 2+ runs. In those contests, Kershaw has allowed a combined three runs and just one home run.
Obviously, that isn’t a guarantee Kershaw is flawless against a powerful Brewers lineup on the road tonight, but he’s the best pitcher in baseball and clearly knows how to return to form very quickly. Making matters worse is Milwaukee’s issues against southpaws, as the Brew Crew has the 6th most strikeouts against left-handed pitching to this point in 2017. Milwaukee is still a top-10 force against lefties both in power and connecting, but against an elite strikeout pitcher like Kershaw, we may want to lean more towards the swing and miss data.
Beyond the Ks, Kershaw simply doesn’t give up much beyond some dingers and he’s allowed a home run in consecutive games just once all season. This is understandably a terrible spot for the Brewers to strike with an upset and it may come down to a low-scoring affair.
Jimmy Nelson helps hammer home the Under, as Milwaukee’s top pitcher excels at home (3.60 ERA) and has really turned up his strikeout rate lately (8, 8, 3 and 10 Ks over his last four starts). Nelson is far from unhittable, but he’s been in top form for the most part lately. Nelson did cough up four runs two starts ago, but in his other three starts over his last four games, he’s given up a combined three runs.
We can probably target the Under pretty safely here even if Nelson isn’t completely dialed in, as Kershaw’s best stuff should limit the Brewers to 3 or fewer runs with extra emphasis on “fewer”. If Nelson brings his A game in what could be a nasty pitching duel, all the better. We do suggest shopping around for the best Under you can find, which will only help this bet pass easier. The best one we’ve seen is 8, but we’re more than fine with targeting the 7.5 (EVEN) over at Bovada.
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