In St. Louis, look for the Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers to combine for more than 6.5 runs in their National League Division Series; go with it at 1.88
Post-season is a time for heroes, and there’s no doubt Clayton Kershaw is trying to earn his cape in this Tuesday contest. With his team down two-games-to-one in the best-of-five series, this is a must-win for Los Angeles. And, for this match-up, Kershaw is going to do something, according to Baseball-Reference.com, that he’s never tried in his career – he’s going to start the game on three days of rest.
This is not a good thing. Historically, pitchers taking this short rest in the playoffs suffer (normally pitchers will take four days). Collectively, three-day guys have a 4.14 ERA versus a 3.64 ERA over the traditional break. Now, normally, I’d say Kershaw is super-human and he can do anything. But the fact he was hit hard in game one of this series (6 2/3 innings pitched; eight hits and eight runs allowed) causes pause. Then throw in the fact that Kershaw, who is a creature of habit, is exiting his comfort zone, and even if he battles in this contest, I fear it’s unlikely he’ll leave this game unscathed.
As for the Dodgers, expect them to come out swinging against St. Louis pitcher Shelby Miller. The 23-year-old does have a bit of post-season experience, but it isn’t great (6.23 ERA in 4 1/3 innings). Beyond that, there’s the disparity between his ERA (3.74) and his fielding independent pitching (4.54). The latter is scaled like ERA but is usually a better indicator of performance. So, it’s clear he’s dodged a lot of bullets this year to have an ERA so far below his FIP. Final point: In two appearances against the Dodgers, Miller was tagged for six runs and nine hits in just six innings of work.
Go with the Washington Nationals - on at 1.72 - to win on the road against the San Francisco Giants in game four of their NLDS.
Now that the Nationals have broken through with a win in this series, I like the club’s chances of leveling the series. The reason: the starting pitcher very much favors Washington in this game. Nationals’ starter Gio Gonzalez faced injury issues and some inconsistency this year, but down the stretch he looked a lot like the guy who won 21 games in 2012. In the final month of the season, he went 4-1 with a 2.48 ERA and his final two starts of that stretch saw him put up a 2-0 record on the back of a minuscule 1.29 ERA.
The Giant’s Ryan Vogelsong is the polar opposite to Gonzalez. After putting up a sturdy 3.06 ERA in the season’s first half, he cratered following the All-Star break. In particular, September was a nightmare. He went 0-4 with a 5.53 ERA to close the season. In terms of his work against the Nationals, it’s not good either. In two 2014 starts, he posted a 7.15 ERA in 11 1/3 innings.