Thursday features a two-game MLB slate. The action gets underway with the Tampa Bay Rays vs. the Houston Astros at 5:07 p.m. ET and concludes with the Atlanta Braves vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers at 8:08 p.m. ET.
Both teams that were trailing in the series managed to win on Wednesday, which sets up some big games today. The Astros will look to stave off elimination for the second straight day, while the Dodgers will look to even their series at 2-2.
Let’s dive into two of my favorite baseball bets on DraftKings Sportsbook for Thursday’s slate.
Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers’ offense exploded for 15 runs last night, including 11 in the first inning. They were able to knock Kyle Wright out of the game after just 2/3 of an inning, which goes to show just how potent this offense can be in the right matchups. They finished the year first in wRC+ vs. right-handed pitchers in particular.
They’ll be facing another mediocre right-hander today in Bryse Wilson. He has been unable to find success at the MLB level, posting a 5.91 ERA and 5.56 FIP over 42 2/3 innings the past three seasons. That includes a 5.28 FIP over 15 2/3 inning in 2020.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers will send Clayton Kershaw to the mound, who has had a career resurgence in 2020. He dominated during the regular season, pitching to a 2.16 ERA.
Of course, the regular season has never been an issue for Kershaw in the past. He’s one of the best regular season pitchers in the history of the league, but he has a reputation for crumbling during the playoffs. Things have historically gotten worse for Kershaw the deeper he’s gotten into the postseason, and he’s posted an ERA of 4.61 over 13 career starts in the NLCS.
Still, I’m willing to bank on him in this spot. The Braves are not nearly as good vs. left-handed pitchers as they are against right-handed pitchers – they rank just 15th in wRC+ vs. southpaws – and the matchup vs. Kershaw should neutralize their best hitter in Freddie Freeman. Kershaw is also coming off arguably his best playoff outing in his career in his last start, racking up 13 strikeouts over eight scoreless innings vs. the Padres. If Kershaw can do that against San Diego, there’s no reason he can’t do it again vs. the Braves.
Dodgers OF Joc Pederson
Wilson has not been that prone to the long ball this season, but I still like Pederson’s ability to potentially hit one out in this contest. He has historically feasted on right-handed pitching, and he clubbed 36 HRs over 401 at bats vs. traditional pitchers back in 2019. He hasn’t been as dominant in that department this season, but it’s obviously over a much smaller sample size.
Pederson also enters this contest in excellent recent form. He has been on fire during the postseason, posting a 220 wRC+ through his first 16 playoff appearances. He ranks second on the Dodgers in average exit velocity and fourth in hard hit rate among the Dodgers batters this season, so he has the potential to hit the ball a long way when he makes contact.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
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