The Dodgers are playing with heavy hearts after iconic broadcaster Vin Scully died on Tuesday. Fittingly, the news was announced during a game between the Dodgers and their greatest rival, the Giants – in the same ballpark where Scully closed his magnificent career in 2016. This has always been a championship-or-bust season for the Dodgers, but now they have some extra motivation and will look to stay red hot with Clayton Kershaw on the mound Thursday.
Let’s take a look at starting lineups, betting odds, and predictions for Thursday’s matchup.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants Betting Odds
The Dodgers are heavy favorites at -250 on the moneyline, with the over/under set at 8 runs. Aside from the Giants’ struggles and the Dodgers playing like the best team in baseball, the Dodgers are such decisive favorites because of this gap in San Francisco’s rotation. The Giants are starting Jakob Junis in this one, giving the ball to someone who wasn’t in their starting pitching plans when the season began. Metrics indicate Junis is due for some regression, and the Dodgers have the kind of offense that can make him pay.
Los Angeles Dodgers Starting Lineup
C. Kershaw L
7-3 2.66 ERA
RF M. Betts R
SS T. Turner R
1B F. Freeman L
C W. Smith R
3B M. Muncy L
2B G. Lux L
DH M. Vargas R
CF C. Bellinger L
LF J. Gallo L
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Jakob Junis
Jakob Junis signed a small 1-year deal with the Giants this offseason after five years in Kansas City. He wasn’t supposed to be part of Gabe Kapler’s rotation, but multiple injuries to Anthony DeSclafani have made Junis a regular member of the unit. The right-hander has pitched pretty well over 58.1 IP, posting a 2.78 ERA with a 3.75 FIP and 1.05 WHIP while starting in all but three of his appearances. The ERA and FIP disparity, along with Junis’ struggles in the minors earlier this year, probably hint that some regression is coming – unless this is yet another instance of the Giants’ magic.
The Dodgers finished July with a season-best .840 OPS and .275 AVG. Two games into August, they’ve carried that production over. Mookie Betts is hitting like himself as he continues to get comfortable after an IL stint, and there might not be a pair of teammates making contact like Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman right now. Turner is on his second 20-game hitting streak of the season, while Freeman is batting .466 over his last 19 games. It’s nearly impossible to navigate the top of this order when those three are in it, and the recent breakout from Gavin Lux doesn’t make life any easier for pitchers. With Junis, who struggled with the home run ball in Kansas City and has a career WHIP of 1.32, you have to be concerned about his ability to get through this start mostly unscathed. Junis doesn’t typically give the Giants much length, so their bullpen – which sits 26th in ERA – should see plenty of action.
San Francisco Giants Starting Lineup
J. Junis R
4-2 2.78 ERA
RF A. Slater R
2B W. Flores R
DH J.D. Davis R
1B Y. Mercedes R
LF L. Gonzalez L
3B D. Villar R
SS D. Machado R
C A. Wynns R
CF B. Johnson S
San Francisco Giants vs. Clayton Kershaw
Future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw might not be the pitcher he used to be, but he’s still having a terrific season for the Dodgers. Kershaw has a 2.66 ERA and 2.60 FIP through 14 starts, with a 0.99 WHIP and just 14 walks. His last two outings have been a bit of a struggle. Kershaw might get a pass for allowing 3 runs on 8 hits at Coors Field, but he was hit hard by the Giants on July 24 and forced out of the game in the 5th inning. In more pitched-friendly Oracle Park, this may be a good bounce-back opportunity for the former MVP. Just be aware of the issues that have popped up lately.
The Giants are coming off a tough month offensively and as a team. Though they opted to keep key pieces like Carlos Rodon and Joc Pederson, San Francisco now sits 5 games out of a postseason spot. The lineup is the biggest reason why. Pederson, Brandon Crawford, and Evan Longoria are all on the IL at the moment, which doesn’t help matters. The Giants are hitting .210 with a .616 OPS over their last 13 games, averaging much less than a home run per game over that span. It’s worth noting the Giants have hit better against lefties, but one of the primary reasons for that success – Darin Ruf – was traded at the deadline. In fact, Ruf homered against Kershaw the last time these two teams faced off. If there’s any hot hitter to watch, it might be Wilmer Flores. The former Met is hitting .294 with 3 homers over his last 9 games.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants Picks & Prediction
My pick: Dodgers Moneyline / Over 7.5 Runs Parlay (+150 on FanDuel)
I don’t have too much faith in the Giants’ offense, but I have enough trust that it can scrap across enough runs to top off what should be a good night from the Dodgers’ lineup. There’s no good reason to bet against the Dodgers right now with the way they’re hitting. Mookie Betts has regained his form, Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman are both hitting out of their minds, and they’ll face a weak spot in the Giants’ rotation with Junis on the mound. Even in a pitcher-friendly park, both offenses should have enough juice to put a combined 8 runs on the board.