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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 7:00 AM

There are so few good teams in the National League this year…that you REALLY have to pay attention when a couple of them happen to play each other! That means handicappers and sports fans should be studying this weekend’s four-game set between the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers very closely. This could be a playoff, or even an NLCS preview given the relatively short list of actual pennant threats.

Think we’re exaggerating? For most of the season, only St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati have been consistent winners in the NL. Atlanta had a hot first dozen games…but has only played .500 ball the past three months…in a bad division in the inferior league. Did you see Atlanta slog through a weekend against the lowly Chicago White Sox of the AL? The Dodgers got hot when Yasiel Puig joined the lineup just as others were getting back to form after injuries. The past month, the Dodgers have been the best team in the league.

So…that’s it…Cards, Pirates, Reds, Dodgers…the only four good teams in the NL!

This Reds/Dodgers series is going to be quite a challenge for both. Each team has struggled this year when matched against quality. The Reds have a poor record vs. winning teams (worse than you’d expect anyway). The Dodgers recent run hasn’t come against anyone of quality (unless you want to count Arizona, who’s been slumping lately anyway). Also, both are TIRED! The Reds just played four games in three days in San Francisco. The Dodgers will be flying in from Toronto without a day off, crossing a few time zones in the process.

Here are the projected pitching matchups…



Cincinnati…Latos: 9-3, 3.53 ERA, 1.29 WHIP

Los Angeles…Greinke: 8-2, 3.36 ERA, 1.26 WHIP

Latos has struggled in recent starts, seeing his ERA jump from 2.97 up to the mid 3’s. He’ll be helped tonight by throwing in a pitcher’s park against a jet-lagged team. But, the Reds overall have to be worried about his recent form. It’s tough to win in the postseason if your staff doesn’t have at least one guy throwing like an ace.

It’s funny, Latos and Greinke have very similar stats for the year…but they’re trending in opposite directions. Greinke just threw three very strong games to lower his ERA from 4.30. He looks to be fully recovered from his collarbone injury. The Dodgers become REALLY scary if Kershaw and Greinke ever line up at the same time in their best form. Might be worth thinking about the Under since we have good pitching stats facing offenses who just travelled without a day off.



Cincinnati …Bailey: 5-9, 3.84 ERA, 1.16 WHIP

Los Angeles … Kershaw: 9-6, 2.01 ERA, 0.88 WHIP

Bailey has allowed 27 hits in 18 innings since throwing that no-hitter against the Giants a couple of weeks ago. He deserves a better won-lost record than 5-9. But, he has been having trouble throwing out of the stretch this year. If you can get guys on base, you’ll score runs. Bailey will need his best form in this matchup.

It tells you how badly the Dodgers were playing earlier in the season that a guy with DOMINANT numbers in ERA and WHIP can only post a 9-6 won-lost record. Kershaw is the stud of the league, and he’ll be almost impossible to beat if the offense continues its production of the past month.



Cincinnati … Arroyo: 9-7, 3.19 ERA, 1.11 WHIP

Los Angeles …Ryu: 8-3, 3.25 ERA, 1.29 WHIP

Arroyo is typically feast or famine…and it’s been a lot more feast for him in recent starts. He just shut out the Giants on the night the Reds offense obliterated Lincecum. And, he’s throwing better all season than that 9-7 won-lost record would suggest.

Ryu has been most lethal this year at home (pitcher’s park) against offenses who haven’t seen him before (first look lefty). That means the Reds may be in big trouble! This is Ryu’s first game against Cincy this season. But, Ryu may be showing signs of fatigue given his last two outings. We will generally be looking to fade Ryu at high prices down the stretch against teams who have seen him already.



Cincinnati …Cingrani: 4-1, 3.18 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

Los Angeles … Capuano: 3-6, 5.03 ERA, 1.44 WHIP

Cingrani continues to do a great job replacing Cueto. But, Dusty Baker had him throw 118 pitches in his last outing…which is asking for trouble. Will Dusty ever learn?! This is the only day game in the series…which means the lethal Dodgers bats will have good visibility against what may be a tired opposing pitcher.

Capuano has been a huge disappointment for the Dodgers. It’s tough to have an ERA that high when you play in a lousy division full of pitcher’s parks! Looks like a good spot for an Over play, though we’re typically careful about asking for runs in this ballpark.

JIM HURLEY will very likely have at least one big play in this series over the next four days. You can always purchase daily BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. You can also sign up for service by calling our office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to ask about early-bird football when you call.

Back with you Friday to preview the St. Louis/Atlanta series. The Braves will get a chance to really prove they belong in championship discussions in that high profile series. Saturday and Sunday in the NOTEBOOK, we’ll finish off our summer series of college football conference previews with the Pac 12 North and South.

Whether it’s baseball or football…you’re going to GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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