The Los Angeles Dodgers have lost only once in their past 10 games, and hope to keep their roll going Saturday night against the Colorado Rockies.
This NL West tilt obviously favors the perpetual division favorite, but the Rockies got off to a strong start in 2020 before their current skid of five straight losses. They'll need to recover quickly to remain in the Wild Card hunt.
In abe Insights' preview, you'll find advanced statistics to help you better evaluate your betting strategies, along with analysis of the primary lines and how they ought to trend, and the best odds available across the major sportsbooks.
Date: Saturday, August 22
Time: 9:10 p.m. ET
TV: SportsNet Rocky Mountain; SportsNet Los Angeles
Implied Probabilities: Rockies 35%; Dodgers 70%
Spread: COL +1.5 (-105); LAD -1.5 (+115)
Moneyline: COL +185; LAD -235
Kyle Freeland gets the ball for Colorado and will start against Dodgers second-year dealer Dustin May, who began 2020 filling in for Clayton Kershaw on Opening Day and has been stellar, with a 3.00 ERA in five starts. Freeland gave up eight runs in 5.2 innings against L.A. last season, but he's 2-1 with a 2.56 ERA overall this year so far.
Superstar outfielder Mookie Betts got Friday off for rest, but he'll be back to lead the Dodgers' explosive batting order. Betts is doing well in his maiden season in L.A. after a slow start, with a 1.156 OPS, eight homers and 16 RBI in August.
.315 vs. .267: Where Colorado's batters have an edge on Saturday is in contact hitting. Although some of it is admittedly luck-based, not for nothing, the Rockies rank third in MLB in batting average on balls in play (BABIP), while L.A. ranks sixth-lowest.
47.9 vs. 38.3: Here's where the stats on contact favor the Dodgers. They're MLB leaders in hard hit rate, whereas the Rockies' percentage would rank last in all of baseball if not for Cleveland's lackluster hitting.
4.93 vs. 1.81: It's a simpler dual number set here, but it tells a lot. The second figure is LA's bullpen ERA, preceded by that of Colorado's. The Dodgers are No. 1 in the league; their opponent is in the bottom third of MLB.
It's been a bounce-back stretch for Freeland, who went 3-11 as a starter a season ago after finishing 2018 in the top four of NL Cy Young Award voting. Opposing batters had a hard hit rate of 39.9% versus Freeland this past year, but in 2020, that number is down to 27.6%.
FanGraphs also shows how Freeland is moving away from his fastball, which he used more than half the time in each of the prior three seasons. His fastball usage is down to 29.1%, while his changeup is up over 20% to 31.4% usage. Most notably, Freeland's slider has picked up 5.3 mph in velocity and is deployed on 20.8% of his pitches.
May is much more of a power pitcher, who has a devastating sinker that not only dives away from hitters, but also registers an average of 97.9 mph on the radar gun. The 22-year-old flamethrower also has a cut fastball and only occasionally throws a curve. If he keeps up the heat with the desired movement on it, May will continue to be tough to hit.
But as the numbers section shows, Colorado has been opportunistic when making contact (BABIP), so May will need to make sure his sinker stuff is on to keep the visitors from driving extra-base hits. That may prove difficult, since the Rockies have MLB's second-lowest ground ball rate (36.2%).
It's going to take smart at bats and consistent base hits for Colorado to tag May. That's what the Rockies have essentially been doing all year until this recent spate of losing, where they've scored just one run in three of the five contests. They need to seize momentum early before LA's elite bullpen spells May and, in all likelihood, slams the door.
Fortune sometimes favors the bold, and at some point, the Rockies have to snap out of their funk, so look for bettors to wager more on Colorado's moneyline. Especially with the Centennial State being newer to the legal sports betting market, there should be a fair amount of action on that side of the line.
Oddsmakers are giving the Rockies as good as an even-money shot to cover the run line, which is a decent bargain, but expect the heavily favored Dodgers' spread to see more action. Despite the starting pitchers being strong, there are too many big bats in this one to prevent the run total wagers from at least slightly skewing toward the Over.
Note: Odds current as of 10:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, August 22.
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