By Charles Jay
The Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to pull away in the National League West, which is not an easy task, because the Arizona Diamondbacks are not that far behind them, sitting with the second-best record in the senior circuit. But the boys in blue, who got off to a tenuous start while Arizona and Colorado battled for the lead, are threatening to pull off a three-game sweep in this series, as Thursday action gets underway at 10:10 PM ET at Dodger Stadium. America’s Bookie customers will have the chance to stay involved with placing wagers on the game, even after it has begun, as they take advantage of two different “Live Betting” options in their sportsbook interface.
Currently the Dodgers are 57-29, and only the AL West leaders, the Houston Astros, have a better ledger in all of baseball. They are 4.5 games ahead of Arizona, after having won the first two games of the series. The D-Backs failed to score a run off either Dodger starter – Clayton Kershaw or Alex Wood.
Rich Hill (5-4, 4.00 ERA) takes the mound for the Dodgers. After an season of All-Star-level pitching in 2016, when he had a 12-2 record, Hill continued with the blister problems that betrayed him in the latter part of the season, as they carried into 2017. He did two rehab starts, and was inconsistent as he got himself going. But now he looks pretty damn good, with consecutive starts that show the stuff that made him a very valuable pickup for the Dodgers at the trade deadline (he’d been with Oakland, of course).
Robbie Ray (8-4, 3.06 ERA) gets the start for the Diamondbacks, fresh off his All-Star selection. Ray came on strong, then tapered off a bit, but he still has a 1.81 ERA over his last eight starts, so obviously his team is hopeful that he can solve an opponent that is a blistering 35-11 at home.
In the odds by which we will make our baseball picks for Thursday, the Dodgers are the favorites:
Los Angeles Dodgers (Hill) -160
Arizona Diamondbacks (Ray) +140
Over 7.5 Runs -120
Under 7.5 Runs +100
Dodgers -1.5 Runs +145
D-Backs +1.5 Runs -165
The D-Backs are 19 games over the .500 mark, but they are just 10-10 against left-handed starters, and that is important to note, because now that Hill has apparently hit his stride, Los Angeles has a ridiculous array of southpaws to throw at the opposition the rest of the way, when you consider Kershaw and Wood – both Cy Young candidates – and mega-prospect Julio Urias as well.
Hill only went three innings against ‘Zona on April 16, giving up two runs and five hits before being removed, and he was subsequently put on the disabled list. But i his last three starts he has allowed four runs in 19 innings, with a superb ratio of 26 K’s to six walks. One of the explanations that has been offered is that he has simplified his delivery, and that worked in fanning eleven San Diego Padres in his last seven-inning stint.
Ray went through a beautiful stretch where he gave up just one run over 37 innings, but he has been less “lights-out” over his last three outings (10 earned runs in 17-2/3 innings). He has demonstrated some mastery over two prominent members of the Dodger lineup, holding Justin Turner and Corey Seager to a combined 6-for-35 lifetime.
We’re moving UNDER with this one in the Charles Jay / America’s Bookie Challenge, with a small play on Hill a secondary move.