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Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler is the future of LA's pitching staff
Welcome back to the LazyBets Free MLB Picks column for Saturday, September 8th. That makes three straight wins for us - Oakland piled up the hits against Rangers starter Yovani Gallardo on Friday night like we thought they would, winning 8-4.
Why not make it four straight? We think we’ve got a great shot - there’s a whole lot of value up for grabs in the NL West showdown between the Rockies and Dodgers on Saturday night. Despite the half game difference in the standings and the great seasons that both starting pitchers are having, we think one team has a massive advantage in this one. Let’s get into it.
Los Angeles Dodgers (Buehler) at Colorado Rockies (Freeland)
The Dodgers and Rockies are playing the second game of a pivotal three game set on Saturday. To be honest, we’re not happy that these two teams are on top of the NL West - we bet the current third place team, Arizona (only 1.5 games back), at +530 to win the division before the season started.
When we made that bet, we expected the Dodgers to be the major threat to the Diamondbacks in the division - what we didn’t expect was Colorado hanging around so long. We didn’t think they had any chance of finishing with a top 10 pitching staff, but right now they’re sitting at 8th in pitching WAR. A big reason for that is today’s starter, Kyle Freeland.
If you’ve been reading along this season, you’ll know Freeland has been a thorn in our side. He’s burst onto the scene this season, posting a terrific 2.96 ERA over 28 starts. In some seasons, that’d be good enough for the Cy Young discussion. Despite that, we’ve continued to bet against him - we just don’t think he’s as good as his results suggest.
He’s been on the happy side of the ledger in two of the most luck-heavy pitching stats - LOB% (8th amongst qualified starters) and HR/FB% (5th). He has had some influence on those stats: he’s inducing a lot of weak contact and ground balls. However, a pitcher’s most reliable weapon to avoid run-scoring hits is the strikeout, and Freeland is well below average in getting swings and misses. Combine that with a higher-than-average walk rate, and we think there’s no way that Freeland should have had this level of success so far.
Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler has a similarly great ERA (2.92) in 10 fewer starts, but as opposed to Freeland, we think he’s the real deal. Buehler’s got that weapon that Freeland doesn’t - a fastball that averages 96 MPH, which contributes to his well above average strikeout rate. He also walks fewer than Freeland and induces even more ground balls. He’s got the full package - we’re all-in on Buehler becoming the next ace for the Dodgers, and we think that day may have already arrived.
Power will be at a premium in Coors Field, and LA has far more of it in their lineup. Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story form a solid slugging duo for the Rockies, but the Dodgers have an embarrassment of riches in that department. Manny Machado, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, and even Max Muncy, who has come out of nowhere to hit 32 bombs so far this season, are all candidates to go yard on Saturday.
With such a massive edge in the pitching matchup and in offensive talent, we think the Dodgers should be a huge favorite in this one. However, Freeland’s career year and the Rockies' surprise lead in the NL West has the oddsmakers fooled. The Dodgers should be a way heavier favorite than only -130 at BetOnline, so we’re grabbing the value and making it our pick of the day.
Thanks for checking in, and be sure to check out our picks for this weekend in college football and the NFL. Football is here to stay, so go sign up at one of our top rated sportsbooks and get in the action.
Best of luck out there, and we’ll see you back here soon.
Bet the Dodgers -130
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