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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 11:21 PM

It was quite a sight to see. Oddsmakers, fully aware of how badly the Los Angeles Dodgers have been playing in recent weeks, opened Cincinnati and Johnny Cueto at -155 for Tuesday’s game in Chavez Ravine against the Dodgers and Chris Capuano. That’s a ROAD FAVORITE laying a big number against the Dodgers! Sharps decided it was high and jumped in on the home underdog…and drove the line down to Reds -120 by midday Tuesday.

Talk about a tizzy!

How do you price the Los Angeles Dodgers right now? They’re not at anything close to full strength give multiple key injuries. Are they just the San Diego Padres in different uniforms? How much should you weigh that great 30-13 start to the season that’s now pretty far back in the rearview mirror? What about the 5-15 stretch that saw the Dodgers get shut out five times in six games by the Giants and the Mets? Not just beat, but SHUT OUT!

Oddsmakers have been pretty strict against the Dodgers recently because of that very weak offensive lineup. Capuano is having a good year afterall…yet “Dodgers at home with Capuano” was still seen as a longshot to beat Cueto at first by the guys who make the line. We’re interested to see how the market plays out with tonight’s game at the same site Harang and Leake. Recent days make the following Vegas betting strategy pretty clear:

*If you think the Dodgers are still pretty good, bet right away at value prices

*If you think the Dodgers are horrible, let the market move first, then fade them after the move.

*If you like arbitraging for loose change, bet the Dodgers early and opponents late

There’s been a lot of coverage regarding the woeful offense of late in the mainstream media. Playing badly against a team from New York will do that to you…particularly if you had a historic shutout series just before that. What else would the announcers talk about? We want to direct your attention to the pitching rotation. Once a few key hitters get healthy, it will still be up to the rotation to get the Dodgers into the playoffs in our view.


#1 STARTER: Clayton Kershaw

Nothing wrong here. Kershaw is an ace caliber pitcher who’s going to get the job done much more often than not. His across the board numbers are solid as a rock. And, he averages almost a strikeout per inning.


#2 STARTER: Chris Capuano

Capuano isn’t quite as good as Kershaw…but he’s been amazingly close this year in terms of the best indicator stats. Actually, he has a better won-lost record because of run support. The Dodgers have two aces at the top of their rotation…which will put them in position to threaten down the stretch even if the offense takes awhile to get back up to speed. If you think the offensive woes are going to continue for awhile, you should at least think about the Unders when these two guys are on the mound.



This is hardly getting any play in the media, but losing Lilly hit the team pretty hard because he was having a very solid season through eight starts. You couldn’t call him an ace. But, he was much better than most #3 guys out there on other rotations. His particular style is well suited to the West Coast pitcher’s parks. No, the Dodgers still weren’t a match for San Francisco’s rotation when Lilly was healthy. But, they were well positioned in terms of the league and the pennant race.


#3 STARTER: Aaron Harang

You’re in trouble when Harang is your #3 starter. His stats are protected some by having so many games in pitcher’s parks. But, his WHIP of 1.48 is lousy for a National League pitcher in friendly conditions. At the back of the rotation…maybe. You eat up some innings, then sit on the sideline in the playoffs while the stronger arms try to win you a pennant. The injury to Lilly, and the continuing fade of the next pitcher on the list has really put the Dodgers behind the eight-ball after Kershaw and Capuano have taken their turns.


#4 STARTER: Chad Billingsley

The depressing slide of Billingsley has continued this year. Early in his career it looked like he was going to be a perennial stud. Another Kershaw with a high K-rate and overpowering stuff. His ERA is currently 4.20, and his WHIP is 1.43 despite pitching his home games in good throwing conditions. He’s only had nine quality starts in 17 outings. Couple that with nine in 16 for Harang, and you can see why things get so shaky for the Dodgers once the big two are done. Championship contenders get more out of this from their #3 and #4 spots. Remember, the true negative impact is worse than the raw stats would suggest because the home ballpark helps protect the stats.

#5 STARTER: Nate Eovaldi

The youngster has had to make seven starts to make up for Lilly’s absence. He’s been worse than Harang and Billingsley, with a low K-Rate that suggests he’s not going to be fooling anybody the longer he stats in the rotation. You can’t call him a disaster. But, he’s closer to a disaster than it might seem because of ballpark effects. His won-lost record of 0-5 tells the story fairly well. He’s not getting run support, and he allows too many runs himself to win without great support. There are worse #5 starters in the majors getting some looks. Eovaldi is a stopgap measure for a team that doesn’t have enough fingers for all the holes in the dike.

The recent slump makes a lot of sense when you project the game-by-game win potential of a POOR offense through that rotation. The Dodgers have to try to win nailbiters with Kershaw and Capuano, then are in big trouble with Harang, Billingsley, and Eovaldi. Oddsmakers are pessimistic about LAD as a general rule right now. Should they be even MORE pessimistic given the 5-15 record over 20 games? Or, was just a short term slump that’s about to reverse course?

Whenever the markets are in a tizzy, openings are created for smart Vegas bettors. Volatility is your best friend! If you have a strong read, you’re going to get a good price if you time the market right. And, you can exploit that strong read for days, maybe even weeks before the market settles down.

JIM HURLEY may or may not be playing tonight’s Reds/Dodgers matchup at the settled game day line. But, he DOES have a July 4th Fireworks Show that you’re going to love! Purchase the best from day and night action right here at the website with your credit card. Remember to take care of business EARLY because the holiday schedule is loaded with afternoon action.



San Francisco at Washington (a very early noon ET start!)

NY Yankees at Tampa Bay (these first two are on the MLB Network)

Boston at Oakland

LA Angels at Cleveland



Cincinnati at LA Dodgers (also on MLB Network)

Texas at Chicago White Sox (on ESPN, see Tuesday’s series showcase comments!)

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Back with you Thursday for more baseball. Friday we’ll showcase the Yankees-Red Sox series that will be all over the TV airwaves this weekend. Saturday and Sunday we’ll kick off our college football conference previews with a couple of mid majors.  Be sure you’re with us EVERY DAY in the NOTEBOOK so you know what’s really going on in the world of sports. And, link up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!

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