Major League Baseball pitchers made a mockery of the league and Commissioner Rob Manfred on Tuesday night. Pitchers being checked for illegal substances basically disrobed, including Max Scherzer, who was checked three times and then mean mugged Joe Girardi into an ejection.
We’ll see what Wednesday brings across the league, as pitchers everywhere seem pretty united in the quest to make the league look bad from the foreign substance crackdown. One pitcher sure to be checked a lot is Trevor Bauer of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’ll be in action on Wednesday night as the Dodgers look to avoid a sweep at the hands of Joe Musgrove and the San Diego Padres.
The Padres are a growing favorite up into the -120 range at MyBookie Sportsbook with a total of 7.5 based on the betting action we’re seeing this morning.
Los Angeles Dodgers
We went into the series between the Dodgers and Padres expecting the San Diego offense to struggle, much like it has for the last little while, but it has actually been the Los Angeles side that has not found much in the way of offense. The Dodgers lost 3-2 on Tuesday night after falling in a 6-2 decision on Monday.
Cody Bellinger is back on the IL once again and Mookie Betts left Tuesday’s game under the weather, so his status is questionable for tonight’s series finale. The Dodgers offense has had issues against lefties this season, so struggling against Blake Snell may not have been that big of a surprise for some. Struggling against Yu Darvish? Most everybody does that.
Maybe there are some built-in excuses for the Dodgers, but the reality is that this offense should be better than it is. The Dodgers are living on a high walk rate and have not hit for as much power as expected. They have the highest number of plate appearances with men in scoring position in all of baseball and rank second in runs, but many people expected a lot more power production.
Except for Gerrit Cole, no pitcher in baseball is under the spin rate microscope more than Trevor Bauer. Bauer has indeed seen big spin rate declines over his last three starts. In those outings, he has allowed nine runs on 18 hits in 19.1 innings of work with 23 strikeouts against nine walks. Those starts have been against Atlanta, Texas, and Arizona. He did just throw seven shutout against Arizona with a 321 rpm spin rate drop on his four-seam fastball.
This is a big spot for the Dodgers as they look to avoid a sweep. Bauer has pitched well in two previous starts against the Friars, but we’ll have to wait and see how he looks tonight with increased enforcement on substances and in a really big game.
San Diego Padres
Give the Padres credit. They’ve been able to get back on track and have won six games in a row. The offense remains hit or miss, but the real juggling act has been with the bullpen. Pierce Johnson is now on the IL and the Padres have relied heavily on most of their primary relievers lately. In a 3-2 win last night, it was recently recalled Mason Thompson that had a big appearance and a multi-inning showing from Nabil Crismatt to bridge the gap to Mark Melancon.
Melancon gave up a run with his fourth appearance in six days, but was able to secure the save and now the Padres are tied with the Dodgers in the win column and three games back in the loss column, as they have played three more games than Los Angeles.
The Padres are inching back to being a league average offense. While they rank 11th in runs, they still only have a 99 wRC+ and a .310 wOBA, so offense has been hit or miss for the Friars of late. Like the Dodgers, they draw a lot of walks, but don’t exactly hit for a lot of power. Their .389 SLG ranks in the bottom half of the league and is a mark that is not befitting of the talent on the roster.
Fortunately, the pitching staff is so good for the Padres that not much run support is needed. Joe Musgrove hasn’t needed much. The 28-year-old right-hander has enjoyed his homecoming to SoCal this season with a 2.28 ERA and a 3.11 FIP in 79 innings of work. He has a no-hitter to his name this season and also stellar peripherals across the board with a high strikeout rate and a very low walk rate.
There are some regression signs in the profile for Musgrove with a .229 BABIP and an 84.9% LOB%, but that’s why we see his ERA so much lower than his FIP. Musgrove simply doesn’t allow a lot of baserunners, which makes it tough to give up runs and his solid home run rate is proof of the command profile he’s had this season.
Dodgers at Padres Free Pick
Bauer and Musgrove make for a really good pitching matchup tonight. The onus will be on Musgrove to work deep into the game to spare the Padres pen, which has worked a lot during this six-game winning streak. Winning is always good, but the lone downside is that the bullpen gets worked a lot. I’d expect both starters to be at their best here in this game and think under 7.5 is the play.
Pick: Under 7.5