The Milwaukee Brewers swept the San Diego Padres in San Diego and took two of three at the Chicago Cubs. It is understandable, then, why they are disappointed with how they played by losing the first and third game of their three-game series at home versus the Miami Marlins. Coming off Wednesday’s loss, the Brewers remain in first place of the National League Central, leading the St. Louis Cardinals by two games.
The Los Angeles Dodgers come into Thursday’s game, and this series, having lost five of seven. The current sportsbook odds are Los Angeles Dodgers -190. The Dodgers are still in first place in the NL West, but not in sole possession. Their poor play has opened the door for the San Francisco Giants, who have capitalized on their longtime rivals’ mishaps.
Not Who We Thought They Were
The Los Angeles Dodgers were the hottest team in baseball during the first half of April, racking up 13 wins in 15 games, with a five- and an eight-game winning streak. The latter was ended by the San Diego Padres in the final game of their opening series at Petco Park. That game appeared to have shaken the reigning world champs.
They then split with Seattle at home and immediately watched as the Padres descended upon Chavez Ravine, dominating the Dodgers in their own house, including a nail-biting, record-breaking extra-inning thriller for the final game of the series. Shaken, Los Angeles then lost two in a row to Cincinnati before star pitcher Clayton Kershaw put them on his back, allowing four hits and getting eight strikeouts in seven innings.
Despite Injuries, Brewers are Winning
When Brewers star outfielder Christian Yelich and third baseman Travis Shaw went down in the same game, many around the league felt that Milwaukee’s chances of winning a championship dropped as well. That isn’t the case, as the team opened the year at 40-1 but, according to current 2021 World Series odds, the Brew Crew is down to 20-1. That despite the fact that the team currently has 21 players on the injury list, ranging from day to day to 60 days.
With phenom Yelich out of the lineup, Milwaukee has been relying on its pitching and defense more than anything. Pitcher Corbin Burnes became the first pitcher to have 40 strikeouts and zero walks in the history of the game, as the fourth-year hurler put his name in the record books in mid-April.
Milwaukee’s defense has been pretty solid, only giving up an average of 3.06 runs per game. FanGraphs currently has the Brewers ranked as first on their fielding chart, highlighting the team’s prioritization of defense over offense and explaining how they are winning despite a .217 team batting average.
Dodgers Need Pitching
It’s no secret why the Dodgers are suffering right now, with 12 players currently on the injured list. The fact that nine of those injured players are pitchers shows why Los Angeles can’t seem to keep teams from scoring. Including that final game in San Diego, the Dodgers are allowing at least four runs per game. When you are facing any team, spotting them four runs is tough to overcome, and Los Angeles can’t have Kershaw pitching every night.
Enter Trevor Bauer, who is 3-0 with a 2.53 ERA in 32 innings pitched. The veteran has 45 strikeouts and six walks while giving up six home runs on 15 hits. Before Kershaw’s win on Wednesday, Bauer was the last Dodger pitcher to get a W for his squad. He will step up in the first game of this four-game series and look to set the tone from the outset.
Sit Down and Have a Brew
The Dodgers are still atop the NL West and they still have incredible playmakers like Mookie Betts and Justin Turner. Turner leads Los Angeles in all three major hitting categories, with a .337 average to go along with six home runs and 20 RBIs. Although this team hasn’t been playing its best ball, the Dodgers are still the world champs and that can be intimidating for anyone. With that in mind, the Brewers are opening their series homestand with left-handed pitcher Eric Lauer.
Lauer has yet to pitch in the majors this season and gets to face a Dodgers team that got invigorated in a shutout win on Wednesday and will be looking for blood from the third-year pitcher in his season debut. With a record of 6-4 vs left-handed pitchers, expect Los Angeles to take three of the four games in the series, starting with the first one. Our pick for the MLB Betting line is the Los Angeles Dodgers 1½ runs (-120) for the game, and the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the series.