Pitching Stud Showoff: Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers Take on Juan Nicasio and the Rockies

L.A. Dodgers (29-34) AT Colorado Rockies (29-32)
June 9th, 2011 at 8:40 PM EST
Opening Line:  COL -130, LAD +110
Current Line:  EVEN
Opening Total:  7.5
Current Total:  8

SP:  LAD- Clayton Kershaw; COL- Juan Nicasio

Tulowitzki is hitting just .238 at home this season

The young Clayton Kershaw is beginning to show the signs of what made him the prospect he was when the Dodgers drafted him.  In his last seven starts, he has gone 4-0 with a 2.66 ERA.  He didn’t pitch well in his last outing, giving up 6 runs in 6 2/3rds innings, but he got the run support as the Dodgers rallied to beat the Reds 11-8 in 11 innings of play.

Things haven’t went as smoothly at Coors Field, however, where he did not receive a single run of support in his last two apperances, losing the only decision despite holding the Rockies to 4 runs over 12 innings.  He gave up 3 runs in 6 innings on April 5th, as the Dodgers dropped the game 3-0.  They have lost 3 of the 5 meetings between the teams this season, as well.

The Dodgers have not been consistent on offense, and that is the main reason they have lost 4 of their first 7 games this month.  In the three wins, the offense is hitting .333, while in the losses, .200, while getting outscored 10 to 2.

On Wednesday, they failed to provide any run support in a 2-0 loss to the Phillies.  They mustered seven hits, but all were singles.

Last series, Colorado dropped two of the three.

Troy Tulowitzki hit .343 on the 9 game road trip that the Rockies just completed, though he is batting only .238 at home this season.  Against the Dodgers he is 7 for 19 (.386) and he has hit 2 homers.

Juan Nicasio has been very impressive this year, with an ERA of 2.08.  He has strong strikeout rates with outstanding control.  Despite all his promise, Baseball Prospectus said he is “likely to be no more than a back end starter at the major league level.”

So far, he has proven them wrong as his dominance at the single A level has carried right on through to the majors.  His ERA wasn’t particularly impressive at Single-A Modesto, but he pitched a lot of innings (171) and had a decent WHIP at 1.25.  It was his control over the plate that made him a success though, and that appears to be translating.  In his last outing, he gave up 3 runs and 9 hits in six innings, failing to record a quality start in the 3-1 loss to the Giants.  Nicasio is actually a good hitter, though, too, and doubled at both of his at bats that game.

His power is impressive…”He throws 95, 96 mph” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.  “He has a slider that has to continue developing….he is a strike throwing machine…a very competitive kid with a lot of praise.”  Generally most batters seem to have trouble when the fastballs get faster than 95 mph, so that is a major plus in Nicasio’s favor.  Tracy just said, “When you’re throwing low strikes at 95 or 96, that’s hard to hit.”

Some betting trends:

The total has gone OVER in 9 of the Dodgers’ last 12 games against the Colorado Rockies and the Dodgers are 6-3 SU in their last 9 against the Rockies. The total has gone OVER in 4 of the Dodgers’ last 6 games on the road against the Rockies and they are 15-8 SU in their last 23 games on the road against the Rockies.

The total has gone UNDER in 6 of the Rockies’ last 7 games and they are 6-13 SU in their last 19 games.  The total has gone UNDER as well in 4 of their last 6 at home, but it has gone OVER in 9 of their last 12 against the Dodgers.  The Rockies are 3-6 SU in their last 9 games against the Dodgers and the total has gone OVER in 4 of the last 6 at home against the Dodgers.  The Rockies are 8-15 SU in their last 23 games at home against the Dodgers.

Given the excellence of both pitchers, it’s difficult to see the total exceeding 8.  Both have low ERAs and neither offense has been particularly pretty.  Nicasio could end up making the difference for the Rockies as he appears to have all the tools to do well at this level.

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