What do we do with the Dodgers? The team that was projected to win its division by the widest margin before the season started dropped to six games below .500 last night with a second consecutive loss to Cincinnati.
Los Angeles got off to a painfully slow start and has fought hard to earn splits and avoid falling any further back in the division in two recent series’ against Arizona and another against San Francisco. But between those series’ against divisional contenders, the Dodgers have either lost, or at least failed to win, sets with San Diego, Miami and now Cincinnati.
Last year’s National League Champions have to win both tonight and tomorrow afternoon just to salvage a split with the lowly Reds.
In April, the general feeling I got from the public was that the Dodgers might have already dug themselves too deep of a hole to catch Arizona in the NL West, but that they would sooner or later bounce back and at least get back into the Wild Card chase.
But this month Corey Seager got elbow surgery and will miss the rest of the season. Clayton Kershaw also hit the Disabled List a week ago with tendonitis in his throwing arm. Meanwhile, the rest of the roster has failed to produce. There is certainly a growing group amongst the public that is ready to put a fork in the biggest NL powerhouse before summer has even begun.
I’m not aggressively buying, but I’m also ready to start taking advantage of some of the fear that surrounds the Dodgers. They are better than only the three last-place teams in the NL, yes, but there is no way the front office or players in the dugout are even close to giving up hopes of getting back to the playoff. Of all the goals that this team entered the regular season with, everything has been stripped down to that simple aspiration: overcome this nightmare start and just get into the playoffs.
Eventually, I see the Dodgers getting hot and getting back into things. For now, they must roll with the punches. It may mean splitting, or even losing three of four games to the Reds, but every win they can pick up now, at rock-bottom, will mean something later on.
Ross Stripling will be a mainstay in the starting rotation for the foreseeable future with all of the injuries. He’s the sort of guy who can step up, put some duct tape on this thing, and provide his team a boost. He’s been great out of the ‘pen so far this season and has enough experience as a starter that this won’t be a difficult transition.
The Reds are running Homer Bailey out against him. Bailey peaked in 2011–2013 and is picking up speed on his way down the other side of the hill. His WHIP has been ok this season, but I don’t expect that to last. He’s giving up nearly 2.5 home runs per 9 innings this season and striking out fewer batters than ever.
The Dodgers are between -180 and -190 on the moneyline and +115 on the runline. We can synthesize those two numbers to pay -135 and not risk losing if the Dodgers only manage to win this game by a run. Certainly, I like LA’s chances to win this one comfortably.
Free Pick: Dodgers -1 (-135)