The Dodgers and Reds are two teams going in very different directions, but they’ll meet on Thursday to close out a three-game series in Cincinnati. The Reds have the worst record in the National League and got hit hard in the series opener on Tuesday, giving up 17 hits in an 8-2 loss. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the Dodgers, who have lost two of their last three series, but they remain among the NL’s top teams with a league-leading run differential.
Cincinnati will put rookie Hunter Greene on the mound against the pitcher they hope he can one day emulate: Clayton Kershaw. Let’s take a look at starting lineups, betting odds, and predictions for Thursday’s matchup.
Los Angeles Dodgers Vs. Cincinnati Reds Betting Odds
The Dodgers are decisive favorites at -220 on the money line, which comes as no surprise. Even without Mookie Betts, LA’s offense came in and recorded 12 hits off of Tyler Mahle alone on Tuesday – a week after Mahle threw nine shutout innings against the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers have arguably the deepest crop of position players in baseball, and so far it looks like enough to overpower a rebuilding Reds team.
Los Angeles Dodgers Starting Lineup
SS T. Turner R
1B F. Freeman L
C W. Smith R
3B M. Muncy L
LF C. Taylor R
DH J. Turner R
CF C. Bellinger L
RF E. Alvarez S
2B G. Lux L
Los Angeles Dodgers Vs. Hunter Greene
Hunter Greene is one of baseball’s youngest starting pitchers at just 22 years old, and he’s made 13 starts this season after debuting in April. The former No. 2 pick and high school phenom doesn’t yet have the numbers to show for his talent – he has a 5.26 ERA, 5.29 FIP, and 1.29 WHIP over 65 innings – but his last few outings have been encouraging. Greene dominated the Diamondbacks on June 6, allowing one hit and walking none over seven shutout innings, and he followed it up with a strong showing against the Cardinals. Greene couldn’t keep the momentum going against Milwaukee last week, allowing 4 runs in 5 IP, but you can tell he’s starting to figure it out. In April and May, Greene averaged 2.7 walks per start. In four starts this month, he’s averaging just 1 walk.
The Dodgers will give Greene one of his toughest tests yet, even with Betts on the IL. Few hitters are hotter right now than Trea Turner, who has a hit in 39 of his last 40 games and is batting .348 in that span. The good news for Greene is that the Dodgers aren’t as power-heavy as many expected. LA is 10th in HR/game and will be playing without their home run leader. These Dodgers rely more on contact hitting from guys like Turner and Freddie Freeman. Greene has a high home run rate, allowing 2.4 home runs per 9 innings, but he has allowed pretty limited contact of late. If Greene can keep contact to a minimum, the Dodgers aren’t as equipped as they once were to beat him with the home run.
Cincinnati Reds Starting Lineup
2B J. India R
DH B. Drury R
LF T. Pham R
1B J. Votto L
SS K. Farmer R
CF N. Senzel R
3B D. Solano R
RF A. Almora R
C A. Garcia R
Cincinnati Reds Vs. Clayton Kershaw
The last few seasons for Clayton Kershaw have been all about availability. He doesn’t have the dominant stuff of the past, but when he’s on the mound, he’s still extremely valuable. He just isn’t consistently on the mound. Thursday’s start will be Kershaw’s 3rd since returning from a month-long IL stint for lower back inflammation and his 8th this season. It’s tough to argue with the results this year, though, as Kershaw has a sparkling 2.08 ERA and 2.61 FIP over 39 innings. He even threw seven perfect innings against the Twins back in April.
Kershaw has yet to hit the 90-pitch mark this season and hasn’t surpassed five innings since coming off the IL, so he may not give the Dodgers a ton of length on Thursday. He’s looked solid since returning, however, and the Reds have only scored more than 5 runs once in their last 12 games. Cincinnati is hitting just .213 with a .595 OPS on the road, indicating just how much of a difference hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark can be. The good news? The Reds will be at home and can reap those rewards. That just might be a challenge against a pitcher as smart as Kershaw, with a lineup headlined by journeyman Brandon Drury. The Reds will also be without two of their better hitters, Tyler Stephenson and Tyler Naquin, who are both on the IL.
Los Angeles Dodgers Vs. Cincinnati Reds Picks & Prediction
My pick: Freddie Freeman to record 2+ hits (+180)
Freddie Freeman’s power mysteriously hasn’t come along this season, but the Dodgers won’t complain as long as he’s hitting near .300 with a .382 OBP. Freeman has posted 3 hits in two of his last three games, and he has a hit in each of his last five. Hunter Greene has done a fine job of limiting contact, but Freeman is an extremely intelligent hitter and has a great chance to get the best of the rookie for a pair of hits.
The Dodgers have the clear advantage in this one. At +180 on the money line, it’s not terrible value to go with the Reds and bank on Greene’s nasty stuff flustering another team, but chances are the Dodgers’ superior talent will be the difference in the end.