It seems like anything can happen this MLB season, as the Los Angeles Dodgers seek to snap a two-game skid on Tuesday against the Houston Astros.
After winning 106 games a year ago, the Dodgers suffered back-to-back defeats to San Francisco, dropping to 2-2. Meanwhile, Houston is seated in a familiar perch atop the AL West with a 3-1 record.
Can L.A. recover on the road? Learn more about this highly anticipated clash with abe Insights' betting preview, which hooks you up with the best odds, advanced stats to consider and analysis of likely wagers trends.
Date: Tuesday, July 28
Time: 9:10 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Implied Probabilities: Dodgers 55%; Astros 47%
Spread: LAD -1.5 (+120); HOU +1.5 (-134)
Moneyline: LAD -122; HOU +115
Sometimes the way pitching matchups fall just so happens to favor one team significantly, and that's the case here. Potential Cy Young Award candidate Walker Buehler is on the bump for L.A., and he'll face off with southpaw Framber Valdez (8-8, 4.60 ERA in 34 career appearances).
Buehler is among the most captivating young pitching talents in the game and went 14-4 last year. With an abbreviated 2020 schedule, he may not go as deep as in a usual season, which means the Dodgers' bullpen has to be ready to shut down Houston's elite offense.
40.8 vs. 34.8: The Astros led the majors last season in batting WAR, but L.A. wasn't too far behind in second place. It's no wonder the clubs finished with the best records in baseball with that kind of transcendent production.
1.16 vs. 1.20: These clubs ranked first and second respectively in another category: bullpen WHIP. In this instance, the Dodgers gain the slight advantage — and Houston saw a trio of marquee relievers leave the team in Hector Rondon, Will Smith and Collin McHugh.
14.9 vs. -2.0: What the home team lacks in pitching depth it can at least in part make up for on defense. As far as fielding is concerned, Houston was clearly superior in Ultimate Zone Rating in 2019.
That whole Astros sign-stealing scandal, which has marred the legacy of their triumphant run to the 2017 World Series? Well, that victory in the grand finale came against the Dodgers, who are bound to have some hard feelings about it all.
However, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts insists that isn't going to cloud the main mission.
"I just don’t see how animosity or using that as a mantra is going to help you win a baseball game, let alone two games on Tuesday and Wednesday," Roberts said of using Houston's tactics as motivation, per The Orange County Register's Bill Plunkett.
As it is, some players weren't even in L.A. when all this happened, including recently-extended superstar Mookie Betts. Maybe at least internally, the visitors can feed off some of that fuel — or do something to remedy Betts' slow start, as he has just three hits in 20 at bats.
Other than Betts, though, the Dodgers have picked up right where they left off offensively, as have the Astros. Los Angeles leads MLB with a .291 average, and .388 on-base percentage, while Houston is third in those same categories and in slugging percentage.
Leadoff hitter George Springer is the lone wolf struggling for the 'Stros, going 1-for-16 thus far at the dish. One would expect batsmen like Springer and Betts to bounce back in short order, and not a moment too soon in this pivotal duel.
It's not quite as useful to look at last season's odds trends when assessing these teams, simply because they won so often regardless of venue. Firstly, the total could really go either way, but given the explosive nature of these lineups, wagers are likely to go toward the Over 9.5.
Given the losses to the Astros bullpen, Buehler's clear superiority to Valdez and the desperation and vengeance factors on Los Angeles' side, look for bettors to ride the Dodgers' -1.5.
As for the moneyline, it's hard to bet against Houston at home regardless of the circumstances, especially after going 60-21 at Minute Maid Park a year ago. Thus, the Astros should see more moneyline action.
Note: Odds current as of 11:45 a.m. ET on Tuesday, July 28.
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