Los Angeles Dodgers (-126, 6.5 o/u) at New York Mets (+105)
The expectations every time Clayton Kershaw (7-6, 2.68 ERA) takes the mound are pretty darn lofty. The Dodger lefty has won three Cy Youngs in the last four years (including two straight) and was nearly unhittable last season until October rolled around.
So when he got off to a fairly pedestrian (by his standards) start to 2015, people started questioning whether his best days were behind him, even though he’s just 27 years old.
The critics have largely quieted down over the last few days, however, as Kershaw has now gone 20 straight innings without allowing a run. That number may be set to increase tonight as the Dodgers (54-42, 21-25 Away) face one of the worst hitting lineups in the majors – the New York Mets (49-46, 32-14 Home) – tonight at Citi Field in the Big Apple (7:10 PM Eastern Time).
With two wins in his last two starts, Kershaw’s record is back over .500 for the first time since June 22. In his last start against the NL East-leading Nationals on July 18, he went eight innings, allowing just three hits while striking out a season-high 14 batters in the Dodgers’ 4-2 win.
“It looked like he had good location,” manager Don Mattingly told MLB’s official website. “Obviously, all of his stuff was good. … Just kind of continuing on what he’s been doing his last 10, 12 [starts].”
Unlike Kershaw, personally, the Dodger team didn’t get off to a great start post All-Star Break, going just 3-3 so far and losing two of three to the middling Atlanta Braves. But they did manage to take the series finale last night (3-1) thanks to a solid seven innings from Brian Bolsinger and a three-run fifth inning.
New York, meanwhile, has alternated wins and losses over their last four, and remain three games back of the Nationals at the top of the NL East standings. The bulk of the team’s success this season can be attributed to tremendous pitching, which has kept the team competitive despite the Mets’ hitters sitting second-last in the MLB in both runs and slugging percentage and dead last in batting average.
Veteran hurler Bartolo Colon (9-8, 4.86 ERA) is set to get the start tonight. Colon is actually one member of the Mets staff who has struggled this year, especially of late. The 42-year-old Dominican is 0-4 in his last five starts and was hammered by the Cardinals last time out, giving up eight hits and seven runs over just 4.1 innings en route to a 12-2 loss.
Kershaw is finally getting his rhythm and confidence back after a slow start to the season, and facing the Mets’ batting order is a perfect way to keep that trend going.
(Photo credit: slgckgc on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)
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