#913 Los Angeles Dodgersvs.#914 San Francisco Giants
Written by Matt Severance
When/Where: Friday, 10:15 p.m. ET, AT&T Park, San Francisco
Moneylines: Giants -130, Dodgers +120; total: 6.5
How sweet would it be for the Los Angeles Dodgers to be able to prevent their arch-rival San Francisco Giants from making the playoffs this season? The Dodgers might have a chance to do that as they visit AT&T Park for three games this weekend to close the regular season. It’s a great matchup of lefties on Friday.
As the NL West champion, Los Angeles knows it will be playing in the NLDS against the Washington Nationals. And the Dodgers already have set their rotation for those first three games: Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda. Their fourth starter is still to be determined, but it could be rookie Julio Urias. Los Angeles actually got good news this week with the news that Washington All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos was lost for the season to a torn ACL. Certainly you don’t wish injury on anyone, but that only improves the Dodgers’ chances of winning the series against the Nationals, who also are without star pitcher Stephen Strasburg. I definitely like the Dodgers in that series now.
Hill is scheduled to start here in his regular-season finale. Hill (12-5, 2.05) was supposed to start last Sunday against Colorado but was skipped due to lingering concerns about a blister on his pitching hand. That problem cost Hill more than a month earlier this season and delayed his Dodgers debut after a trade from Oakland. Hill threw a 35-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday and came out of it fine so should go here. He has allowed only five runs in five starts with the Dodgers, although they have dropped his past two. Hill is 1-1 with a 0.82 ERA in two starts against the Giants this year. Buster Posey is 3-for-5 career off him. Hunter Pence is 4-for-12 with a double and RBI. Brandon Belt is 1-for-4.
San Francisco actually made a trade this week — you can still make deals but the acquired guys can’t be on the playoff roster. The team got infielder Gordon Beckham from the Braves for a minor leaguer. Beckham isn’t very good but gives the Giants some infield depth this week with Eduardo Nunez and Brandon Crawford banged up. Here, it’s Giants ace lefty Madison Bumgarner (14-9, 2.71), who will get some Cy Young votes as he’s second in the NL in innings and complete games, third in strikeouts and fourth in ERA and WHIP. By pitching Friday, Bumgarner would be on normal rest for a potential wild-card game next Wednesday against the Cardinals or Mets if the Giants get there.
Bumgarner hasn’t won in his past four outings and wasn’t all that sharp last time out in San Diego, allowing five runs and four hits (three homers) in six innings. It was the first time all season Bumgarner yielded three homers in one outing. He is 0-2 with a 3.91 ERA in four starts against the Dodgers in 2016. Adrian Gonzalez hits just .189 off him with 10 strikeouts in 53 at-bats. Yasiel Puig is 8-for-32 with two homers and nine strikeouts. Yasmani Grandal is 1-for-12 with six strikeouts.
Never bet against Bumgarner in a big game — have you seen his postseason ERA? Plus he is 8-4 with a 2.04 ERA at home this season. Hill has been amazing but he could leave at any time if that blister flares up. The Giants are 8-2 in their past 10 home games vs. a lefty starter.
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Matt has been a sports journalist for nearly two decades. He is a former sports editor/writer at two newspapers and a magazine. Went full-time freelance sports writer in 2008 -- not by choice then but became a life-changing decision in the best possible way. Consider myself expert on all major US sports. If you are looking for Curling or Badminton expertise, etc., I'm not your guy.