LOS ANGELES DODGERS (78-74)
at CINCINNATI REDS (92-60)
First pitch: Sunday, 8:00 p.m. EDT
With the Reds having clinched the NL Central and the Dodgers fighting for a playoff berth, the two teams will play the rubber game of their three-game series Sunday night.
Winners in five of their past six games, the Reds clinched the NL Central Saturday, while the Dodgers, losers of three of their past five, sit three games behind the second Wild Card spot. Aaron Harang will likely take the hill for the Dodgers, though there is a buzz that ace Clayton Kershaw, who hasnít pitched in two weeks (hip), could make his return. That appears unlikely, however, and Harang has meant bad news for the Dodgers latelyóthey have lost his last five starts, a span in which he is 0-3 and has not made it out of the sixth inning. Thatís in stark contrast to Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey, who is 2-0 with a 1.55 ERA in his past four starts, all in September. In those four starts he has an impressive 26 Kís and just six walks. Furthermore, the Dodgers struggle on the road with a 38-39 (.494) mark, while the Reds are a dominant home squad (48-29, .623). Monitor this game closely to watch the status of Kershaw, but play on CINCINNATI in this one.
This three-star FoxSheets trend also favors the Reds:
Play On - All teams when the money line is +125 to -125 (CINCINNATI) - starting a pitcher who gave up <=2 earned runs in his last 2 outings against opponent starting a pitcher who is working on 3 or less days rest. (40-15 since 1997.) (72.7%, +25.4 units. Rating = 3*).
On the season, Harang is 9-10 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. The team is 12-17 when he takes the hill, and he averages just 5.8 innings per start. That places a lot of pressure on the Los Angeles bullpen that has a 3.28 ERA on the season, but a 4.10 mark on the road. It just doesnít look like Harang will get the needed offensive support here, as the Dodgers average only 3.8 runs per game against righty starters and have been cold lately with 2.6 runs per game in their past seven contests. The good news for Harang is he has historically dominated the Reds with a 2-0 record, 1.38 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in two career starts. One of those, a seven-inning, one-run performance, came earlier this year while the other came in 2002.
Bailey tossed a beauty against the Dodgers earlier this season, going eight innings and allowing just two earned runs on five hits. In his career, he is 3-1 (team 4-1) in five starts against Los Angeles with a 4.06 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. On the season, Bailey has a 12-9 record, 3.82 ERA and 1.31 WHIP, though his numbers are much worse at home where he has a 5.05 ERA and 1.53 WHIP. Even if he isnít great Sunday, however, he always has the support of Cincinnatiís top-flight bullpen that has a 2.64 ERA on the season with 53 saves. And fortunately for Bailey, the relievers are even better at home where they have a 2.22 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.