The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers fire up what is a huge series for both teams. At this point in time, the Giants hold a 3.5-game lead over the Dodgers and picking up a game or two in this series would be huge for San Francisco, as a lot of people just seem to be waiting for the Giants to lose their grasp on the NL West.
The Dodgers just got swept by the Padres in last week’s marquee series and they’ll be hoping to make amends for that against their other California rival. The line for Game 1 of the set is a lofty one, as Trevor Bauer and the Dodgers are priced in the -180 range at Bovada Sportsbook against Anthony DeSclafani and the Giants.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants just keep hitting and keep winning. By just about every important metric, the Giants are a top-five offense. They rank fifth in wOBA against right-handed pitching and their 112 wRC+ ranks fourth in the league. They rank third in wOBA overall and are also an excellent defensive team, so they rank third in fWAR.
One of the two teams ahead of the Giants in fWAR is the Dodgers, so this is definitely a heavyweight battle in Chavez Ravine this week. San Francisco is playing better and is also generating a lot more power than the Dodgers right now. Los Angeles has been living on a high walk rate to drive up the offensive numbers, whereas the Giants are living on contact quality and slugging percentage.
That’s not to say that the Giants don’t walk. They are one of the league’s team’s with a BB% over 10%. It’s just to say that the Giants are tied for the league lead in home runs with the Toronto Blue Jays, who played in the launching pad of Dunedin, FL for the first two months worth of home games. Oracle Park is not known as a hitter’s haven at all.
The Giants will turn to Anthony DeSclafani in the series opener. DeSclafani has a 2.77 ERA with a 3.33 FIP on the season in 87.2 innings of work. There are some modest regression signs with Disco, who has a 78.1% LOB% with a pretty average strikeout rate and a .238 BABIP against, but he’s limited walks and really done a good job to limit home runs.
DeSclafani has allowed just eight home runs in 87.2 innings. He allowed seven in 33.2 innings last season with the Reds. He’s been able to stay healthy with the Giants and has been a stable force for one of the best rotations in baseball. San Francisco’s defense has been a factor, though, as DeSclafani has allowed a 43.2% Hard Hit% with a .198 BA against and a .238 BABIP. That is a red flag going forward.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers got back on track with three straight wins against the Cubs to finish out the four-game series against Chicago. Los Angeles was no-hit in Game 1 with a combined effort from Zach Davies and the Cubs bullpen, but the four-game losing streak ended on Friday and the Dodgers rolled through the weekend with some good baseball.
The Dodgers offense really does depend heavily on the free pass. Los Angeles has an 11.2% BB%, which leads the league. The Dodgers are also second in BB% against right-handed pitchers on the season, trailing only the Yankees. The problem for LAD is that power production has really fallen off, even with basically the same roster that we saw last season.
The numbers for the Dodgers are skewed a little bit because the team struggles so much with left-handed pitchers for whatever reason. Los Angeles is still eighth in SLG against righties, but really ranks poorly against lefties. DeSclafani is a righty, so that won’t be a huge issue for today’s game.
It will be interesting to follow another Trevor Bauer start with the league-wide crackdown on foreign substances. Bauer has been under the microscope a lot for some big spin rate spikes in recent years, but he has fared a lot better than Gerrit Cole, who was also under a lot of scrutiny. While Cole looks like a replacement-level pitcher, Bauer has allowed 12 runs on 23 hits in 25.1 innings since the crackdown with 33 strikeouts against 13 walks.
The increased walk rate is definitely a concern for Bauer here. He allowed three solo home runs in the loss to the Padres last week and was visibly frustrated about his fortunes on fly balls. Maybe he’ll attempt to make an adjustment now for more grounders with the decreased spin, but Bauer certainly seems out of his comfort zone right now to a degree and two of this three highest starts by average exit velocity have come since the crackdown.
Giants vs. Dodgers Free Pick
It is hard to look at this game and not give the Giants a real chance at their price. The Dodgers are certainly a popular team and a lot of people still don’t believe that what San Francisco is doing is real. The current version of Bauer is not the same version of Bauer we’ve seen all season. We could even take a look at the over today with some pending regression for DeSclafani, but I really believe that the big price is worth a look.
Pick: San Francisco Giants