After an uneven opening series against the lowly Giants, the 2-2 Dodgers travel to Houston. Waiting for them will be the Astros–the enemy of the league and Dodgers mortal enemy. After their World Series loss in 2017–the first year of the Astros’ cheating scheme. LA will be looking for any retribution they can get. Meanwhile, Houston will be looking to defend home turf while coping with the loss of Justin Verlander to injury.
Los Angeles Dodgers at Houston Astros
Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas – 9:10 PM EST
Game Info/Starting Pitchers:
LAD: Walker Buehler – R (Last Season: 3.26 ERA, 3.01 FIP, 5.0 WAR, 182.1 IP)
HOU: Framber Valdez – L (Last Season: 5.86 ERA, 4.98 FIP, 0.1 WAR, 70.2 IP)
Odds & Betting lines (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Total: 9.5 | Over: -106 | Under: -114
LAD | Moneyline: -136 | Run Line (-1.5): +115
HOU | Moneyline: +115 | Run Line (+1.5): -137
LAD: IL: SP Clayton Kershaw, RP Jimmy Nelson, C Keibert Ruiz; Restricted List: SP David Price
HOU: IL: SP Justin Verlander, DH Yordan Alvarez, SP Jose Urquidy, RP Cionel Perez; Restricted List: RP Joe Smith
New Dodger Ace?
As Clayton Kershaw’s age and back problems have increased, Walker Buehler has begun his transformation into LA’s new rotation leader. Among pitchers aged 23-24 since 2000, Walker Buehler’s 2.98 ERA is 6th-best. The players ahead of him? Felix Hernandez, Kershaw, Jake Peavy, Madison Bumgarner, and Roy Oswalt–all great hurlers. Better yet, Buehler’s 28.8% strikeout rate is second-best, only behind Luis Severino. Suffice to say, Buehler is ready to become that next household name. He resumes that quest in 2020 against Houston.
Better-Suited in the ‘Pen?
As many scouting reports will attest, Framber Valdez has the ‘stuff’ to strike out MLB hitters. After all, he boasts a 94 mph fastball and 96th-percentile curveball spin from the left side. When he’s required to stretch out and pitch multiple innings, however, things fall apart. In 2019, Valdez’s FIP was 4.19 as a reliever but 5.77 as a starter. Although bad home run luck was a factor, Valdez’s alarming 13.4% walk rate makes it difficult to pitch effectively for prolonged stings. With the losses of Gerrit Cole (free agency) and Verlander, though, the Astros have no choice but to stretch him out.
Over 9 (-131)
With two great lineups, a shaky pitcher on one end, and an offense-favorable home park, the over makes sense here. As a whole number, 9 offers us insurance (the bet would ‘push’ at 9 and you’d get your money back). Since 8 is even, it’s less likely to be the final score (as the teams could be tied 4-4). Plus, this kind of game is more likely to end at 10 than 8, so moving down 0.5 runs from the original over would pay off more times than not.
LAD Over 1.5 First 3 Innings (+110)
Given Valdez’s likely struggles, the early-game over is the play as it avoids the talented Houston bullpen. The over in the first 5 innings would’ve been more favorable (less variance), but that prop is well into the negative odds. At plus odds, the Dodgers just need to outdo 4.5 runs per nine–a feat much worse lineups have accomplished against Valdez.