Chicago Cubs (+204) at Los Angeles Dodgers (-221, 6 o/u)
After dropping five straight, the Los Angeles Dodgers (70-56, 42-20 Home) suddenly have their rhythm back, winning three straight to stay atop the NL West standings. Tonight, they will send arguably the best pitcher in the league, Clayton Kershaw (10-6, 2.29 ERA), to the hill to face Jason Hammel (7-5, 3.35 ERA) and the Chicago Cubs (73-53, 34-27 Away) at Dodger Stadium (10:10 PM Eastern).
The Dodgers ended their losing streak by sweeping the Cincinnati Reds and are now 2.5 games above the San Francisco Giants in the NL West. Los Angeles took the last of the series against the Cincy after Zack Greinke, another Dodger hurler vying for the title of top pitcher in the bigs, went 7.0 innings, allowing four hits and no runs while striking out nine in a 1-0 win.
“Zack was … typical Zack,” Dodger manager Don Mattingly told the Associated Press. “He was good all day.”
Kershaw is the two-time reigning NL Cy Young champ. But, tonight, he’ll be looking for his first win in his last three outings. The left-handed ace wound up with two no-decisions on his last two starts, both of which ended up as Dodger losses.
“I hope we’re panicking a little bit,” Kershaw told MLB’s official website. “I think panic’s a good thing to a certain extent. It’s obvious we’ve got five weeks or whatever it is, too. So, there’s a sense of urgency.”
The Cubs, meanwhile, trail the Cardinals by 8.5 games in the NL Central. But they still hold a 5.5-game lead over the Giants for the second NL Wild Card spot, despite dropping the last two of their three game set in San Francisco. Last night, Chicago was dominated by Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner tot he tune of a 9-1 setback.
Hammel is 1-0 in his last four starts, getting the win in a 9-3 victory of Atlanta last time out. Hammel went 6.1 innings of six-hit, two-run ball against the Braves to pick up his seventh win of the year. But he doens’t have a great track record against the Dodgers, going just 2-4 with a 4.96 ERA in 11 starts.
A game at home on a Friday Night is exactly what Clayton Kershaw needs to get back to his winning way. Take the Dodgers to come out on top, as the Cubs will struggle to put up runs against a top hurler, once again.
Pick: Dodgers (-221).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Clayton Kershaw Uploaded by Muboshgu) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)