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LOS ANGELES DODGERS (39-33) at CHICAGO CUBS (39-30)


2015-06-23

One of the best young teams in baseball, the Chicago Cubs, look to grab their third straight win against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.



The Dodgers have yet to really put everything together since dropping tons of money into the team over the past few years, but are always competitive and come into this one with a half game lead over San Francisco in the NL West. Theyve held this advantage despite taking losses in seven of their last nine games and have been unable to get any offense going in this series. They have been outscored 5-2 in these last two losses against Chicago and did not put any runs on the board in the 10-inning, 1-0 defeat on Tuesday night. They had just three hits in the game, and while OF Joc Pederson (.248) failed to get on base, he is a constant power threat with 19 homers on the year (4th in NL) and has two in the past four games. The Cubs have been building the core of this team for a few years now and with those players all making it to the show at the same time, they have performed better than most would expect and are currently the second wild card team. They come into this one riding a four-game winning streak, allowing a miniscule three runs in that time against both Minnesota and Los Angeles. They held this opponent to eight hits in the first two wins and put up a dominating pitching performance in the 1-0 win on Tuesday, all made possible by the impressive start (7.2 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 6 K) from Jason Hammel. Although 3B Kris Bryant (.278) went hitless in the victory, he is one of the best young hitters in the game and has shown impressive plate discipline, ranking in the top-10 in the NL in walks (36). A couple of young righties will take the mound in this matchup as 27-year-old RHP Mike Bolsinger (4-2, 2.87 ERA) looks to outduel 25-year-old RHP Kyle Hendricks (2-3, 4.28 ERA) for the host group. It has been very tough for the Dodgers to get wins on the road as evidenced by their 12-20 record away from home as Chicago is a solid 20-13 when at Wrigley Field. The Cubs win on Tuesday brought them a little closer in the series against Los Angeles since the start of 2013, going 6-10 against them and doing poorly (3-7) when at home during that time. Trends show that the Dodgers have gone a solid 35-24 (.593) against right-handed pitchers this year as Hendricks teams are 18-8 (.692) in his starts over the past two years. The injury report has OF Carl Crawford (Oblique) out for Los Angeles as OF Dexter Fowler (Ankle) is questionable for Chicago with OF Jorge Soler (Ankle) and 2B Tommy La Stella (Ribs) on the DL.



Bolsinger was unsuccessful as a member of Arizonas rotation, but he has excelled since joining the Dodgers and through nine starts has seen his club win five times as he has four quality starts. He has allowed two or fewer runs in 7-of-9 outings while showing solid strikeout numbers (8.3 K/9). His control (3.4 BB/9) has been a struggle this year, but he is a groundball pitcher (56.4percent GB) and can get the opponent to hit into plenty of double plays. Keeping the ball on the ground has aided him in giving up a mere 0.51 HR/9 thus far in 2015 and he has been able to keep 79percent of runners on base. He was dominant in his one career start against the Cubs when he saw them last year and pitched 6.2 scoreless innings with one run allowed (0 ER) on four hits with seven strikeouts (2 walks). There are plenty of new faces on this Chicago team that he did not see last year, but of those who he did face, only 2B Tommy La Stella, who is currently injured, has a hit against the righty. The trio of SS Starlin Castro, OF Junior Lake and 1B Anthony Rizzo are a combined 0-for-6 in the matchup. The bullpen for Los Angeles has done well, going 16-13 with a 3.12 ERA (1.17 WHIP) and is 16-for-26 (62percent) in save chances. Kenley Jansen (0.71 ERA, 9 saves) has been tremendous in his 12.2 innings on the mound with one run allowed on four hits with a flawless 22:0 K/BB ratio.



Hendricks has never really instilled fear in his opponents with a low strikeout rate throughout the minors, but despite seeing his ERA jump from 2.46 over 13 starts in 2014 to his current ERA, has shown improvements in strikeouts (7.3 K/9) while keeping his walks to a minimum (1.7 BB/9). His biggest change from last year is home runs, and while he has not done too poorly in the category with 0.86 HR/9, it is a large jump from the 0.45 HR/9 given up over 80.1 frames last year. Chicago has come away with the win in five of his last seven starts and he has gone at least five innings in all but his first outing of the year, but is coming off his worst performance when he gave up seven runs (6 ER) on 11 hits over five innings in a loss to Minnesota last week. He has one start against this opponent and it came last year when he pitched a stellar game (7 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 3 K) in a winning effort. OF Yasiel Puig (1-for-3) and 3B Justin Turner (1-for-3) had a hit against the righty, but a majority of the hitters struggled against him with C Yasmani Grandal and OF Scott Van Slyke being hitless in their four at-bats. The Cubs relievers have gone 18-12 with a 3.09 ERA (1.24 WHIP) and have been successful in 17-of-26 (65percent) save opportunities. Hector Rondon (2.43 ERA, 12 saves) has not allowed an earned run since May 22nd (10.2 IP) with a 7:2 K/BB ratio in that time.




Tom Brady gushes about Andrew Luck
2014-11-15

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has taken notice of Luck, the third-year Indianapolis Colts quarterback. He has little to do with Luck directly this week, when the Patriots play the Colts in a tremendous Sunday night matchup. They won't be on the field at the same time, but Brady went out of his way to praise Luck during his Wednesday press conference.

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"He does a lot of things I wish I could do," said Brady, according to the Patriots' transcript. "Hes big, fast, shrugs off blockers. He makes a lot of extended plays. Hes a great passer. I think theyve thrown for more yards at this point in the year than any other team in history, so I guess that speaks to what theyre doing offensively."

Luck probably wishes he'll end up with a career like Brady. Brady is arguably the greatest quarterback ever, a three-time champion and a two-time MVP. And here Brady is heaping that kind of praise on a young quarterback. That says a lot about Luck.

Brady isn't facing Luck directly, but he knows that Luck affects what he has to do. Luck has an NFL-best 3,085 passing yards and the Colts have scored 290 points, most in the league.

"Were going to have to score a lot," Brady said. "When you play another great offense, youre going to have to put up a lot of points, similar to our last game. We realize we have a big job, too. Youre right, my focus is on other side of the ball, but you also know youre not going to be able to score 13 points and win the game."


March Madness Bracket
2015-02-15

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2013-01-30




NL West title going down to the wire
2010-09-29

With the Colorado Rockies playoff hopes eliminated Tuesday, the NL West race is down to two teams. The Padres and Giants remain to fight for the division title. San Francisco enters Wednesday with a two-game lead on San Diego and hopes to widen the gap when it hosts the Diamondbacks. Meanwhile, San Diego continues its four-game series with the Cubs at Petco.

Sportsbook.com Odds: San Francisco -150, Arizona +140 Total: 7.5

A pair of red-hot pitchers meet in San Francisco Wednesday night when Ian Kennedy (9-9, 3.76 ERA) goes up against Tim Lincecum (15-10, 3.51). Kennedy has a 1.12 ERA over his past three starts and has given up one run or less in five of his past six starts. The Arizona bullpen hasn’t been kind to Kennedy, as the Diamondbacks have lost three of his past four outings despite Kennedy’s strong starts. One such instance was September 6 against the Giants, where Kennedy went eight shutout innings, only to see San Francisco win the game 2-0 in 11 innings. Kennedy has been impressive against the Giants over his career, going 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA in four starts.

Linecum enters Wednesday off a terrific outing in Colorado where he went eight innings, giving up one run on two hits while striking out nine. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA over his past three starts. After struggling in August, Lincecum has shined in September, winning four of his five starts without allowing more than three runs in any of those outings. He’s 6-2 with a 2.71 ERA in 13 career starts against the Diamondbacks.

Even though the Diamondbacks bullpen is shaky, this MLB betting trend likes Arizona:

Play On - All underdogs with a money line of +100 to +150 (ARIZONA) - with a poor bullpen whose ERA is 4.50 or worse on the season, with a hot starting pitcher- WHIP <= 1.100 over his last 10 games. (42-18 over the last 5 seasons.) (70%, +32.6 units. Rating = 4*).

Sportsbook.com Odds: San Diego -150, Chicago +140 Total: 6.5

The Padres look to pick up some ground on the Giants before heading to San Francisco to close out the year in what should be the biggest matchup of the weekend. First, they hope Chris Young (1-0, 1.20 ERA) can take care of the Cubs. Young is making his third start since coming off the disabled list earlier this month. He’s been effective in his two outings, combining to go nine innings, while giving up two runs on six hits. The Padres have won both those games, against Cincinnati and St. Louis.

Young will be opposed by Randy Wells (8-13. 4.28 ERA) Wells has pitched well lately, going 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA over his past three starts. His most recent effort was especially impressive, throwing 7.2 innings of shutout ball and picking up a win in San Francisco. Wells was on the wrong end of a 1-0 game against San Diego in August where he gave up one run on three hits over seven innings, but still took the loss.

Despite their woeful season, this betting trend suggests there might be some value in backing Chicago:

Play Against - Home favorites with a money line of -110 or higher (SAN DIEGO) - poor hitting team (AVG <=.250) against an average starting pitcher (ERA=4.20 to 5.20) -NL, with a very good bullpen whose WHIP is 1.250 or better on the season. (33-14 since 1997.) (70.2%, +32.1 units. Rating = 4*).




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