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Submitted by Winning Edge on Friday, May 19, 2017 at 11:00 AM

There’s a lot to like about how the Los Angeles Dodgers are playing at the moment. Sure, they’re not in first place in their own division thanks to Colorado’s hot start. But, when you look at the key stats that winning handicappers use, things look a lot better.

NL Run Differential

LA Dodgers +60

Washington +46

Arizona +34

Milwaukee +31

St. Louis +15

Colorado +13

Chicago Cubs +12

The Dodgers have the best run differential in the National League by a good bit, and enter the weekend only trailing the Houston Astros by one run across the whole Major Leagues. Most importantly to me, the Dodgers are WAY ahead of the most talented team in the league…the defending World Champion Chicago Cubs.

It’s nice to have a head start at the quarter pole of the season. Plus 48 runs is quite a head start!

The team has also suffered some bad luck. They’re just 2-2 in extra inning games, and a woeful 3-7 in one-run games. Their 24-18 record really should be more like 26-16 or 27-15, which would match their run differential in terms of league domination.

To me, the race for the NL title is still going to come down to the Cubs, Dodgers, and Nationals, with either Colorado or St. Louis being the most dangerous Wildcard depending on how those teams maintain composure through the dog days of summer. Can the Dodgers come out on top?

Any team putting Clayton Kershaw on the mound 30-plus times a season has a great chance to come out on top!

Kershaw has a 2.15 ERA this season, with another stellar strikeout/walk ratio of 62 to 8. He’s made nine starts this season…so that’s less than one walk per start for a hurler that has electric stuff. He’s an annual Cy Young candidate showing no signs of slowing down.

I want you to start playing close attention to Alex Wood. He’s added some velocity this season, and has an ERA of 2.27 through 8 appearances (6 starts and 2 in relief). His strikeout/walk ratio is 48 to 11. That’s not Kershaw-level…but very definitely is dominant by today’s overall standards. If he keeps that up, it’s going to be very tough to deny the Dodgers the NL West at the very least.

Dodgers fans have been disappointed with the performances coming from Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Kenta Maeda. That can be a half empty/half full proposition. The Dodgers are +60 runs even with those guys throwing worse than par! If they can just be innings munchers, then we’re looking at 95 wins (at least) for the boys in blue.

After this weekend set with the struggling Miami Marlins, the Dodgers will really be tested over the next few weeks. Handicappers will learn a lot more about their real championship potential against this gauntlet:

May 23-25: vs. St. Louis

May 26-28: vs. the Chicago Cubs

May 29-June 1: at St. Louis for 4 games

June 2-4: at Milwaukee

June 5-7: vs. Washington

Milwaukee has been playing over its heads this season, but may still be doing that through the All-Star Break. Otherwise, it’s a virtual NL Playoffs in late May and early June. If LAD comes through that smelling anything like a rose, then this is their league to win. If not, they STILL have a shot to get through the playoffs if Kershaw and Wood can monopolize a lot of postseason innings.

Now, smart bettors know that it’s hard to find betting value on the Dodgers because of their geographic proximity to Las Vegas. This is a “public” team for betting purposes, particularly when things are going well. But, you know what? The Dodgers are relatively “affordable” when matched up against other quality teams. In fact, it’s about the only time you can justify a bet on Kershaw. I’ll be looking very closely through those upcoming matchups to find value opportunities on the Dodgers. I’m fully aware that there won’t be much value afterward if LA shines. 

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