Los Angeles Dodgers at Philadelphia Phillies
First pitch: 4:05 p.m. PT
Probable pitchers: Clayton Kershaw (7-2, 3.09 ERA) vs. Zach Eflin (7-8, 3.78 ERA)
As I wrote about for my first game of the second half, it can be important finding pitchers who have that mental edge of knowing how to pick up where they left off at the All-Star break.
Look no further than Kershaw when it comes to starters who know how to do just that. It’s never a given that a pitcher can simply re-enter a rhythm immediately following the Midsummer Classic but Kershaw seemingly has no problem doing so if his extensive track record in these spots is any indication.
In the left-hander’s nine career first starts right out of the break (in regular rotation, which excludes his rookie campaign of 2008), Kershaw has recorded an incredible 1.67 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. All but one of those clocked in as a quality start, and only in three of them did he yield more than a single earned run. Kershaw also compiled a delightful 63-11 K/BB ratio in such outings, spanning 59.1 innings.
And while the former National League MVP and three-time Cy Young Award winner has made a reputation of thriving on short rest (specifically in the postseason) when needed, there’s also been an interesting tendency displayed by Kershaw when he has extra time between starts, too.
Kershaw has made 37 starts on six or more days of rest (during the regular season), going 18-8 alongside a shiny 1.83 ERA. By comparison, he’s put together a lifetime 2.32 ERA when he goes every fifth day and a 2.74 ERA on five days’ rest.
Even beyond that, Kershaw’s history against this collection of players he’ll be facing tonight is encouraging as well. For instance, Bryce Harper is 3-for-24 (.125) with one extra-base hit (a homer) and 14 K’s opposite the eight-time All-Star. He hasn’t even drawn a walk. Additionally, Jay Bruce, Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez and Jean Segura are a combined 10-for-62 (.161) with 17 punch-outs.
There’s a pretty telling track record in these types of assignments and as long as Kershaw churns out something even close to it, that would be huge for a high under.
Of course, it’s also required that Eflin doesn’t get hit too hard, something that has actually happened previously in his dates with the Dodgers. After all, the fourth-year hurler owns a 9.18 ERA in four career meetings. Luckily, though, Los Angeles didn’t wrap up their series in Boston until the clock turned to Monday, which could create some fatigue issues.
And while Eflin’s ERA is a little higher for his career on extra rest (5.10) compared to four or five days off (4.65), the break actually may have benefited the Phillies’ right-hander after allowing 15 runs across his final three starts to conclude the first half. Prior to that, he held a 2.83 ERA on the season, and having the ability to sort of reset could bring out something closer to that version of Eflin.
But the main key for the 25-year-old in this series opener is that he’ll be working from home. While Citizens Bank Park has a reputation of being friendly for hitters, Eflin has generally been better in Philadelphia since first coming up. His 4.01 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 28 career starts at home is vastly better than the 5.41 ERA and 1.45 WHIP he’s produced in 35 outings on the road.
It’s a trend that has mirrored very similar results in 2019. In his seven starts at home this season, Eflin is 5-2 with a 3.04 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, whereas he’s 2-6 in 10 assignments on the road with a 4.44 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. Play: UNDER 9.5 (-110)
Yesterday’s Result: Mets-Marlins Under 7 (“loss”)
Zylbert’s 2019 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: 52-44-7, +2.85 units
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit
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