The San Francisco Giants have revived their playoff hopes amid a six-game winning streak, but will be hard-pressed to keep that going when they host the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.
L.A. has the best road record in baseball at 11-3, and has won 12 of 13 games overall. Can the Giants' own hot streak spark an upset of MLB's top team?
Check out the rest of abe Insights' preview for this NL West showdown, featuring the best odds available from all major sportsbooks, analysis of the main betting lines, key stats to consider and a bigger-picture preview.
Date: Tuesday, August 25
Time: 9:45 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Implied Probabilities: Dodgers 66%; Giants 36%
Spread: LAD -1.5 (-124); SF +1.5 (+110)
Moneyline: LAD -195; SF +180
Giants starter Johnny Cueto gets a third crack at the Dodgers in 2020 after facing them on Opening Day, where he gave up only one run in four innings, and on August 8 (four runs allowed in 5.2 innings).
On the mound for the visitors will be dynamic young southpaw Julio Urias. The 24-year-old is in LA's rotation after being in the bullpen during 2019, and he's transitioned well, posting a 2-0 record with a 2.74 ERA in five starts.
48.2 vs. 45.4: While it may appear to be a decent pitching duel on paper, bear in mind that the Dodgers and Giants rank first and third respectively in hard hit percentage this season.
5.76 vs. 3.78: Once the starters do leave the hill, though, expect L.A. to have a massive advantage, because the favorites' relievers have MLB's second-best Expected Fielding Independent Pitching rating, whereas the G's bullpen is dead-last with the highest total.
5.7 vs. -1.4: In Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games, L.A. is sixth in MLB, while San Francisco is 17th. The Dodgers are better equipped to help out Urias defensively, yet Oracle Park has a tricky layout that can be especially challenging for outfielders.
The numbers suggest Urias has benefited from defense all year long, as he's yielding a 52.9% hard hit rate on balls in play, according to FanGraphs. Think about that in the context of LA's league-leading hard hit percentage, which is almost five points lower.
Urias is very fastball-dependent, throwing the heat on 61.2% of his pitches this season. That's not so much the case with Cueto, who's taken a more finesse approach and largely overhauled his pitching arsenal from 2019. Now, Cueto is throwing more curveballs than he has in his entire career, and his changeup usage is at a personal high of 27.1%.
Dipping more into the off-speed pitches has helped Cueto be more consistent, and in that last outing against Los Angeles, he actually had a no-hitter going into the sixth before a lost fly ball in the lights ended the bid. Now he's facing that same batting order, which just put up a cool seven homers in their last victory.
Cueto has also faced the Dodgers' explosive offense twice, the Padres, the Athletics and made one of his starts at Colorado, so his schedule has been brutal through six starts. At least he's a solid offense to help him through run support — and his last outing against the Angels featured eight strikeouts and two runs allowed in 5.2 innings for a winning decision.
San Francisco actually has a slightly higher batting average (.255 to .250) than LA, despite the latter's clear edge in talent and depth. The key will be the Giants' bullpen, and whether they can survive the later innings.
It's hard not to advocate riding the Dodgers given how consistent they've been and the star power on their roster. With the moneyline just over -200 as of this writing, expect most bettors' action to reflect a double-down situation with Los Angeles' spread and moneyline.
The run total is higher than MLB average for a reason. Given the shaky state of San Francisco's reliever and how often Urias gives up hard-hit balls, look for bets to trend toward the Over.
Note: Odds current as of 12:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 25.
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