Dodgers vs. Braves Odds
|Time||7:15 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday morning and via DraftKings.|
Timing can make all the difference in baseball.
If a team struggling, sometimes it can look up and find an even worse team on its schedule or face a team that’s pounded out 23 runs in its last two games. The latter is what the Braves have to contend with as they get set to face a Dodgers team that’s starting to get into a groove following the return of Cody Bellinger from a fractured fibula.
If you’re a pitcher watching your offense score that many runs, you can’t wait until it’s your turn in the rotation.
That’s likely the thought going through Clayton Kershaw’s mind as he looks to rebound from a loss in his last start against the Giants. Charlie Morton will oppose him for the Braves, and he’ll need to find a way to slow down this top-five Dodgers offense.
There are some interesting trends in play for this matchup, though they seem to be more tilted in one direction. We’ll share that and much more as we preview this prime-time matchup.
Dodgers Keep Heating Up
The Dodgers are a team that can get hot at a moment’s notice.
Through 57 games, twice they have won eight straight games, and they’ve also had a four-game and a five-game winning streak. Right now, they look primed to go on another winning streak with Bellinger back with the team.
The former NL MVP’s presence alone adds even more length to what was already a potent lineup during his absence. As a result, I don’t think it’s a coincidence the Dodgers have started to light up the scoreboard in their recent games.
They’ll need to maintain that level to keep pace in an NL West division with three teams hovering around a .600 win percentage.
Although the Dodgers are third in the division, they’re only two games behind the first-place Giants and one game behind the second-place Padres. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, it failed to make up any ground in the standings as the other teams won Friday. In fact, all three teams are currently on a two-game winning streak.
However, the Dodgers do boast the highest run differential (+87) in all of baseball. Therefore, based on their Pythagorean expectation, the Dodgers’ .596 win percentage should actually be 5.2% higher and closer to .648 for the season.
That would be enough to vault them right into first place in the division.
The Tale Of The Tape
Both pitchers come into this matchup with decent numbers. Nonetheless, it’s Kershaw who has the edge over Morton in multiple statistical categories: ERA (3.33 vs. 4.26), FIP (3.07 vs. 3.75), WHIP (0.97 vs. 1.28), HR/FB ( 12.3% vs. 18.4%), and BB/9 (1.66 vs. 3.32).
As far as pitch arsenal, the Dodgers can expect a four-pitch mix from Morton. He throws a four-seamer (33.9%), curveball (33.4%, sinker (19.5%), and cutter (11.3%). He’ll occasionally throw a changeup, but its usage sits at only 1.9%. The curveball is the only pitch with an above-average rating of +4.2 runs if you look at his FanGraphs pitch values data. Conversely, the Dodgers offense is considered to be 3.3 runs above average when facing the pitch.
As for Kershaw, he keeps things simple with just three pitches: A slider (47.4%), four-seamer (36.3%), and curveball (16.2%). While most pitchers often work off their fastball, Kershaw is a bit of a relic in that he works backward and pitches off his slider.
After all, his slider is performing at an impressive rate that is 11.6 runs above average. That should work to his advantage against a Braves lineup that is 9.2 runs below average when facing a slider.
My model makes the Dodgers as high as a -148 favorite, so I admit I am a bit surprised the Braves have been bet up in this game. Atlanta leads the league with 85 home runs, but we’ve already established that Kershaw has fared better in this category than Morton.
Morton also didn’t look too good against the Dodgers as a member of the Rays in Game 3 of the World Series. Morton lasted only 4 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits, including a home run.
His teams are just 1-3 against the Dodgers in his career, with his only win occurring in 2015 as a member of the Pirates.
Kershaw will be the second left-hander the Braves will face in as many days, and they’re 85-93 (-16.8 units) in this situational spot. The Dodgers are also 9-2 when he starts against the Braves, and they’ve won the last seven meetings with him on the mound.
Kershaw did lose his last start against Atlanta, but it was during the 2020 NLCS. In fact, the Dodgers have never lost consecutive starts of his against the Braves in his 15 career appearances.
He also comes into this game off the aforementioned loss to the Giants, and the Dodgers have yet to lose two consecutive starts of his this season.
I think we’re getting a discount here with the better lineup and the better pitcher on the mound.
Pick: Dodgers ML -126