In the best pitching matchup of the week, two of the top-four NL Cy Young contenders in the betting markets will face off. Corbin Burnes of the Milwaukee Brewers will travel to LA to battle Tony Gonsolin of the Dodgers.
Behind their respective aces, which team has the edge?
Read on for the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for this Tuesday’s matchup.
Milwaukee Brewers vs Los Angeles Dodgers Odds
Despite the high-quality pitching matchup, which may actually favor Milwaukee, the Dodgers are favorites because of the massive offensive differential.
The Brewers can’t hit the broad side of a barn, while the Dodgers have been the best offense in baseball all season. The talent-loaded Dodgers just forced NL Cy Young favorite, Sandy Alcantara, into his worst start of the season (3 2/3 innings, 11 H, 6 ER).
As a result, the Dodgers are laying over -160 on the ML at most books.
The total feels right with the number sitting at 7. It may be worth looking at a contrarian over.
Milwaukee Brewers Starting Lineup
LF C. Yelich L
SS W. Adames R
1B R. Tellez L
DH A. McCutchen R
RF H. Renfroe R
2B K. Wong L
3B L. Urias R
C O. Narvaez L
CF T. Taylor R
Milwaukee Brewers vs Tony Gonsolin
After Alcantara got blown up by the Dodgers on Saturday, Gonsolin has become the National League’s ERA leader (2.12). He also now leads the league in wins, with an absurd 15-1 record. The Dodgers are 18-4 in his starts overall including his six NDs. His only loss – almost ironically – came in a four-ER performance against the Nationals.
The development of Gonsolin isn’t necessarily surprising considering the Dodgers’ developmental system. L.A. churns out top-tier starting pitchers as if they make them on an assembly line.
But Gonsolin is having a very special season. Combine his ERA with his top-five percentile wOBA allowed (.238) and you can see why.
Gonsolin should be just an average four-seam heavy, right-handed starting pitcher. But he combines his league-average four-seam fastball with three top-tier secondary pitches.
Gonsolin tosses a splitter around 27% of the time with the most effectiveness, picking up a -15 Run Value on the pitch. His splitter could draw comparisons to Shohei Ohtani’s and Kevin Gausman’s, considering he allows just a .119 average with a Whiff rate north of 30%.
His slider has picked up a -11 Run Value while being thrown just 21% of the time. That’s forced a whopping 37% Whiff rate and allows the lowest slugging percentage of anything in the arsenal, at .192.
Finally, his curveball has allowed just a .136 average and just a .178 wOBA while being thrown about 12% of the time.
Gonsolin’s BABIP is extremely low at just .201, and with an xERA around 3.00, we could project some negative regression for him. But considering his ground-ball rate has jumped almost 10% year-over-year (now around 43%), perhaps he’ll continue to overperform.
I certainly don’t expect the Brewers to force that regression. After making some upgrades last season, this Brewers lineup has done nothing but disappoint again in 2022. Rowdy Tellez is the team’s best hitter, with an OPS+ at 125. That’s all you need to know about the Brewers.
Things have been extraordinarily tough lately. The Brewers have put together just a 67 wRC+ over the last two weeks while striking out at a league-high 28.6% rate. In the meantime, the Cardinals have posted baseball’s best offensive statistics, picked up a huge pitching upgrade in Jordan Montgomery, and have built a five-game lead in the NL Central.
All Milwaukee did was trade the best closer in baseball.
Los Angeles Dodgers Starting Lineup
RF M. Betts R
SS T. Turner R
1B F. Freeman L
C W. Smith R
3B M. Muncy L
DH J. Turner R
2B G. Lux L
LF C. Taylor R
CF C. Bellinger L
Los Angeles Dodgers vs Corbin Burnes
There’s one reason that Burnes has better Cy Young odds (+600) than Gonsolin (+1600) – WAR.
Burnes has accumulated 3.6 fWAR this season to Gonsolin’s 2.4. Burnes has lower expected statistics than Gonsolin and has pitched 25 more innings. Burnes strikes out more batters with a higher ground-ball rate, as well.
This is not to say that Burnes is having the better season, or even that he’s a better pitcher, but his level of success is definitely more sustainable. We can project Burnes for less negative regression than Gonsolin, and that’s that.
It’s amazing to watch Burnes dominate hitters while throwing one pitch more than half the time. After abandoning his four-seam in favor of a cutter in 2020, Burnes has ascended to absurd heights. His cutter has recorded a ridiculous -22 Run Value this season, which is more than any singular pitch than Dylan Cease’s slider.
Corbin Burnes, Mean Cutters. ✂️ pic.twitter.com/y7HRlj1nP9
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 14, 2022
How do you hit that?
Moreover, his three secondary pitches (curveball, slider, changeup) all have a Whiff rate of around 50%. Probably because hitters are constantly hunting for the cutter.
We don’t have to recap what the Dodgers can do. They are the best lineup in baseball, and they are on pace to lead the league in runs scored for the fifth straight season (alongside leading the league in runs allowed for… the fifth straight season).
The Dodgers are better against right-handed pitching, possibly because of the five lefties in the lineup. And against Burnes, they’ve pretty much dominated. Burnes has an 8.16 career ERA against the Dodgers, including having allowed three runs over 5 ⅔ innings earlier this season.
Milwaukee Brewers vs Los Angeles Dodgers Pick & Prediction
My picks: Over 7 (-110 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
I’m going to go with the contrarian play on the over. Given we’re getting a Burnes-Gonsolin pitching matchup, the money is going to pour in on the under, and I love fading the public in this spot.
Burnes has struggled against the Dodgers in the past, and the Dodgers are primed for another dominant offensive outing considering their 139 wRC+ over the last two weeks. Plus, that formerly dominant Milwaukee bullpen has taken a hit with the departure of Josh Hader.
In the meanwhile, Gonsolin is due for some negative regression. While the Brewers are awful, they only need to scrape across a couple to cash this total.
Add in the wind is projected to be blowing slightly out to center field, and we have the perfect recipe for the over.