Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Before the season began, it was widely assumed that the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers wouldn’t have much trouble repeating as champions of the NL Central and NL West respectively. Both had great pitching staffs. Both seemingly had enough offense to get the job done. Neither was in danger of suddenly being too old to win. You could write their names into the playoffs in ink…but you could do it in pencil.
Well…despite disappointing starts, both teams are still in the heart of the playoff picture as we near the midpoint of the season. But, neither leads their division! St. Louis has trailed Milwaukee all season. Los Angeles has been looking up at San Francisco…though their vision is getting much clearer because of an extended Giants slump. Could it be that the four-game series between St. Louis and Los Angeles that begins tonight at Chavez Ravine is a “Wildcard” preview rather than a “Championship” preview?
What happens this weekend may tell us a lot about the long term fortunes for 2014 of both NL contenders. Let’s go to the numbers…
St. Louis: 3.77 runs per game, .319 on-base, .366 slugging
LA Dodgers: 4.23 runs per game, .327 on-base, .403 slugging
The Dodgers have a big edge offensively. This is a great offense hampered statistically by playing home games in a great pitcher’s park. We’ve pointed that out to you often through the season. The main reason St. Louis isn’t dominating this season is because its offense has been so quiet. You can get away with having a mediocre offense in the playoffs if your pitching is dominant. Can St. Louis GET to the playoffs with those offensive numbers?
Adam Wainwright: 2.08 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 8.1 K-Rate
Josh Beckett: 2.28 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 8.7 K-Rate
Great pitcher’s duel to kick off the series. Wainwright continues to post Cy Young caliber numbers. And, he’s been trending toward even greater dominance in recent starts. Beckett, of course, had a no-hitter recently at Philadelphia. His consistent form has been a pleasant surprise for LAD. They were hoping for something like this, but definitely weren’t counting on it. Think about the Under since both offenses had to travel after playing Wednesday.
Carlos Martinez: 4.33 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 7.4 K-Rate
Hyun-Jin Ryu: 3.06 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 7.2 K-Rate
Martinez is getting another spot start because St. Louis is giving a rest break to Michael Wacha. Now everybody’s the San Antonio Spurs! You want to keep you players fresh and healthy, but you can’t risk missing the playoffs in the process. Ask Washington about how well their caution with Stephen Strasburg worked out. Clear edge to Ryu. Martinez would have worse ERA and WHIP numbers as a full-time starter. The bulk of his stats have come in relief…and those are NOT good numbers for a relief pitcher who can just come on and fire away for an inning or so.
Lance Lynn: 2.90 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 8.1 K-Rate
Zack Greinke: 2.89 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 9.4 K-Rate
Another great pitcher’s duel. You can see why everyone was so high on these rotations entering the season. Virtually identical numbers except Greinke gets more K’s. Lynn has thrown eight scoreless innings in two of his last three starts. Greinke is in a bit of a slump by his standards. He just got hit in Kansas City, and opponents have scored 22 runs in his last 43.1 innings. Does that suggest dog value on the visitor?
Shelby Miller: 3.75 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 6.3 K-Rate
Clayton Kershaw: 2.24 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 11.7 K-Rate
You probably know that Kershaw is in Superman-mode recently. He just no-hit Colorado two starts ago, then threw eight scoreless innings in Kansas City. How he gets to face a sub-par offense in his friendly home park. Miller has been a disappointment for the Cards. That K-Rate is very low…and the WHIP is way too high in a year of the pitcher. Clear advantage for Kershaw. But, the market prices him so high that value is hard to find.
JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK is likely to have at least one big play in this series. But, there are strong possibilities all over the card this weekend. Start building your bankroll TODAY with BIG, JUICY WINNERS. You can always purchase the final word for each betting day right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us during regular business hours at 1-888-777-4155. Don’t forget to ask about special June football rates when you call. The college and pro football seasons will be here before you know it!
Here’s our baseball preview schedule through the weekend…
Friday: MLB Series Preview…Oakland at Miami
Saturday: MLB Big Game Preview…Cincinnati at San Francisco
Sunday: MLB TV Preview…Boston at NY Yankees
July will bring our annual gauntlet of college football conference previews. Be on the lookout for those. We’ll sprinkle in some baseball too because the pennant races have been so entertaining (and profitable). Visit the NOTEBOOK daily for great handicapping information. Then, be sure you GET ALL THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!