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Dodgers seek more domination of Padres Wednesday
By: Freddy Wander - StatFox
Published: 8/20/2014  at  5:12:00 AM
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First pitch: Wednesday, 10:10 p.m. ET
Line: Los Angeles -150, San Diego +140, Total: 7.5

NL West foes, the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers, continue their rivalry on Wednesday night in Chavez Ravine.

The Padres have been having a rough go of things this season and currently sit 11.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. Much of their problems stem from a paltry offense, which has scored the fewest amount of runs in the league by quite a large margin. They have actually been doing fairly well of late though, coming away with a victory in six of their past 10 games. On Tuesday San Diego was unable to hold off Los Angeles in the first game of this series, losing 8-6 despite getting 14 hits in the contest. By going 14-for-41 (.341) with two homers and 12 RBI over his past 10 games, 2B Jedd Gyorko (.203 BA) has started playing with the talent the Padres thought they were getting when they called him up last season. Los Angeles has taken its rightful place at the top of the NL West division, going just 5-6 over its past 11 games but still leading the Giants by 4.5 games. L.A. snapped a recent three-game skid with Tuesday’s victory as the club went 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position and the 4-5-6 hitters combined to go 7-for-11 with a homer and 5 RBI in the win. OF Carl Crawford (.268 BA) has been tearing it up over his past nine games played, going 16-for-32 with 1 HR, 6 RBI, eight runs and five stolen bases. The pitching matchup for Wednesday will peg LHP Eric Stults (5-13, 4.64 ERA) of the Padres against veteran sinkerball pitcher RHP Roberto Hernandez (7-8, 3.72 ERA) for the host Dodgers. San Diego has not had fun on the road this year, posting a poor 24-39 record (.381, 2nd-worst in majors), but Los Angeles is a mediocre 31-30 (.508, 17th in MLB) at home. These division foes have played 48 times over the past three seasons, with the Dodgers holding a commanding 30-18 (.625) advantage, including 14-9 at home. Bettors should be aware that Los Angeles is 13-24 (.351) this year when the total is 7 to 8.5 while the Padres are 29-41 (.414) in those same situations in that timeframe. On the injury front, 1B Yonder Alonso (wrist), SS Everth Cabrera (hamstring), OF Carlos Quentin (knee) and OF Cameron Maybin (suspension) will all be missing this game for San Diego. On the other side of the diamond, the Dodgers will be without 3B Juan Uribe (hamstring), SS Hanley Ramirez (side) and 3B Chone Figgins (quadriceps).

Eric Stults is not a strikeout pitcher with a career rate of 5.7 K/9. Instead he relies on great control and keeping the ball in the park to win games. Stults has been able to harness his control in 2014 (2.3 BB/9), but has given up 21 homers in his 130 innings of work (1.45 HR/9); a tough task for someone who starts half of his games in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the league. By all accounts it seems as if the league has caught up with the 34-year-old lefty who had experienced great success since joining the Padres in 2012. Stults has been looking much better of late though, with quality starts in five of his past 10 outings. In those 10 games, his ERA has dropped more than a full run while earning three of his five wins on the year. Stults allowed only four runs (3 earned) over his past three starts (19.2 IP), and has given up just one homer in his past four appearances. He has started against his former team six times in his career, putting up a 1-4 record (2-4 team record) with a 3.96 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. Stults pitched well (7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER) despite earning a loss earlier this year. But the players on the Dodgers’ roster have owned Stults to the tune of a .346 batting average while hitting seven home runs in 127 at-bats. Two of those homers came from 1B Adrian Gonzalez (5-for-20) while OF Carl Crawford (5-for-10, 1 HR, 2 RBI), OF Matt Kemp (5-for-12) and OF Yasiel Puig (5-for-8) have all done well against him. However, OF Andre Ethier and C A.J. Ellis are a woeful 4-for-25 (.160) combined against the veteran. San Diego’s bullpen has pitched to a 17-10 record this year while posting a tremendous 2.43 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, and has been successful at saving games in 31-of-37 (84%) chances. Closer Joaquin Benoit (1.64 ERA, 7 saves) has gone 7-for-8 in his save opportunities this year and has struck out 59 batters in 49.1 innings of work (10.8 K/9).

Roberto Hernandez was picked up by the Dodgers to fill in as the fifth starter after pitching pretty well in his 23 games (20 starts) as a member of the Phillies. He had a 3.87 ERA and 1.35 WHIP with Philadelphia, and has already put together quality starts in each of his first two outings with his new club. Hernandez has certainly not overpowered any batters with his fastball sitting at an average of 90.1 MPH, but he has still had trouble with control (4.0 BB/9). Hitters have been unlucky against the veteran (.251 BABIP) and have hit a groundball 51% of the time due to his patented sinker. Hernandez’s one start against the Padres came last year when he earned a win after six strong innings in which he allowed two runs on five hits while striking out four with two walks. Backup OF Jeff Francoeur may make an appearance due to his career performance in this matchup, going 5-for-13 with two home runs against Hernandez. No other player besides currently injured OF Carlos Quentin has more than five at-bats versus the right-hander. The Dodgers relievers have combined to go 12-19 with a decent 3.75 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, and are 38-for-48 (79%) in save chances. Closer Kenley Jansen (2.98 ERA, 35 saves) has struck out 81 batters over 51.1 frames (14.2 K/9) while blowing four saves on the year.

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