Network Notebook: Cardinals/Dodgers Series Preview

DODGERS HOST CARDS IN 3-GAME SET THAT COULD BE A PLAYOFF PREVIEW

There are enough quality teams this season in Major League Baseball that there's almost always a great series on the ledger for fans and handicappers to study. This week, that showcase series is obviously the St. Louis Cardinals visiting the Los Angeles Dodgers. Futures prices to win the National League pennant currently have these two teams just behind the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals.

Yes, St. Louis trails Milwaukee in the NL Central at the moment...and the Dodgers are behind the surprisingly hot starts of Colorado and Arizona. But, respected betting markets see these as two of the top four teams in the NL...and likely to reach the playoffs regardless of how things stand seven weeks into the season.

Let's take a look at the teams and the projected pitching matchups for this Tuesday-thru-Thursday series.

TEAM QUALITY
St. Louis: +17 runs, while playing 25 home games and 16 road games
Los Angeles: +64 runs, while playing 23 home games and 22 road games

The Dodgers have been significantly more impressive in these key indicator stats in JIM HURLEY'S arsenal. The Cards may be a pretender! That's nine more home games than road games for St. Louis...which means their run differential could very well be negative when that evens out. You can see why the market sees the Dodgers (+575 offshore) as virtual co-equals with the Cubs (+530) and Nats (+565) in World Championship potential. Though fourth in the NL in futures respect, the Cards are further back at +1650.

TEAM OFFENSE
St. Louis: 4.5 runs-per-game, .332 on-base, .417 slugging
Los Angeles: 5.0 runs-per-game, .345 on-base, .432 slugging

Big edges here for the Dodgers, which is impressive because they play in what is generally considered to be a tougher hitter's park. Those are loaded offensive numbers considering that challenge. Both teams emphasize getting on base, which is smart baseball. The Dodgers have the third best on-base percentage in the majors. St. Louis is ninth best...which is Wildcard caliber.

TUESDAY
Lynn: 2.78 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 7.9 K's per 9 innings
Kershaw: 2.15 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 8.9 K's per 9 innings

The reason St. Louis is winning without big run scoring totals involves a consistently solid pitching staff. Very good numbers for Lynn this season. Though, NOBODY matches up to Clayton Kershaw in terms of win potential in any given game. Kershaw is usually very expensive to back at home. That would suggest Under consideration in this matchup, or taking a flyer on the dog in a pitcher's duel and hoping for a late-game break.

WEDNESDAY
Leake: 2.03 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 6.2 K's per 9 innings
Hill: 2.77 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 9.0 K's per 9 innings

Leake is unlikely to maintain that very low ERA considering his mediocre strikeout rate. But, he's still throwing well enough to offer value until his stats regress. Hill's ERA is way too high for that WHIP. He's lucky he has such potent bats behind him. Tricky one to call because Leake isn't as good as his ERA, and Hill's WHIP is a red flag.

THURSDAY
TBA (it's Wacha's turn)
Maeda: 5.03 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 9.2 K's per 9 innings

As we prepare this preview for you, the Cardinals haven't settled on a starter. It's Michael Wacha's turn in the rotation. But, they're being careful with him as he returns from a shoulder injury. His stats are in the same neighborhood as Lynn and Leake, which means you should think about backing him if he goes! Maeda has been rocked hard when he allows contact. It's rare to see such a high ERA with a quality WHIP and K-rate. Worth thinking about fading Maeda if you get a decent St. Louis arm, particularly if the team was unable to break through much against Kershaw and Hill in the first two games. You don't often see sweeps when teams this high in the futures pricing square off against each other.

Handicappers should pay a lot of attention to this series because both teams will likely play prominent roles in the pennant race. Though, our early data did show some issues for St. Louis that just might make them a great go-against team through the NL Central race this summer. Longtimers in this sport know that it's easier to make money against overrated teams (which St. Louis might be) than it is to make money on teams the market already respects (which they obviously do with the Dodgers based on futures prices).

Of course, JIM HURLEY pays intense attention to ALL matchups EVERY day, because it's his job to find you BIG, JUICY WINNERS!

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22
Nov

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