The rich got richer before this past Monday's Major League Baseball trade deadline. No team got richer than the L.A. Dodgers. For weeks, Texas had let it be known that they were looking to trade ace pitcher Yu Darvish.
Rumors swirled around the 30-year-old pitcher from Japan. None of those rumors involved the Los Angeles Dodgers. In fact, it looked like Texas wasn't going to be able to unload Darvish. Then, right before the trade deadline expired, in swooped L.A.
Darvish's move to La-La Land so impressed World Series future bettors that money flowed onto LAD to win the 2017 World Series. So much money has gone to L.A. that the Dodgers are now as low as 2 to 1 in some sportsbooks to win the Fall Classic.
Are those low odds justified? I take a deep dive to figure out.
Los Angeles Dodgers Starting Pitching
When it comes to the MLB Playoffs, it's all about pitching. The key to LAD's rise has been their excellent bullpen, which has a 2.87 ERA, best in Major League Baseball. We know the bullpen should pitch well. If the Dodgers are going to lose in the playoffs, it will be because the bullpen must play catch up.
The Dodgers starters can sabotage the bullpen by putting the BP into a huge hole. That's the easiest way to beat LAD. You must expect that every NL manager in MLB knows this.
Here's a list of the Dodgers top 4 starters. It's doubtful manager Dave Roberts goes past these top 4.
Clayton Kershaw – 15-2 record, 2.04 ERA, .88 WHIP
Yu Darvish – 6-9 record, 4.01 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
Alex Wood – 12-1 record, 2.38 ERA, .99 WHIP
Rich Hill – 8-4 record, 3.35 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
Kershaw has played catch for 3-days in a row as of August 2. Playing catch and then throwing for a bullpen session are two entirely different things. It's hard to say whether or not Kershaw will be ready by the MLB Playoffs.
If Kershaw isn't ready, Darvish inherits spot A in the starting rotation. How will Darvish perform versus the best National League Teams? Darvish hasn't faced enough NL batters from the likely playoff teams for us to know.
That's the rub. Darvish could be an absolute beast on the mound. Or, he could flounder because he's just not use to the batting lineups for the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Colorado Rockies.
At this point, Darvish's ability to shut down any National League Playoff team is a question mark. So far, from the first 2 pitchers in LAD's starting rotation, we've found question marks.
What about Rich Hill and Alex Wood? Let's take a look.
Wood was unhittable before the All-Star Break. Since then, though, he's been terrible. Wood allowed 7 earned runs off 9 hits versus Atlanta on July 21. On July 28, Wood allowed 4 earned runs off 8 hits in 7 innings. There's a huge question mark regarding Wood.
Rich Hill has a 3.35 ERA. His WHIP is 1.18. The question surrounding Hill is that we don't know how good he is against the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs could be the Dodgers' toughest opponent this postseason. Hill has only faced Alex Avila twice and Ben Zobrist twice.
The Dodgers can score runs. There's no reason to question that. LAD's bullpen is solid. There's no reason to question that. But, there are questions with all 4 likely post-season starters in the rotation. That's enough for me to pass on the Dodgers to win the 2017 World Series at 2 to 1 odds.