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Game two of an NL-AL matchup Wednesday sees the Los Angeles Dodgers host upset-minded Toronto from Dodger Stadium. While Los Angeles remains a prohibitive favorite to make another World Series run, L.A. has lost three-of-four after dropping a potential weekend NLCS-preview series to Atlanta. Likewise, after battling New York and Tampa Bay on even terms, Toronto has gone 1-3 in their last four while losing consecutive outings vs. Seattle.
Toronto enters tonight’s matchup 21.5 games behind the American League wildcard. Waist-deep in rebuild territory, pride is the only factor at stake this evening for the Jays.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles has completely different goals. The Dodgers are a virtual lock to win the NL West and currently maintain an eight-game lead over Atlanta for the National League’s top record. However, after playing World Series also-ran for two years running, Los Angeles sits just behind the Yankees for postseason home-field advantage. With parity ruling among MLB’s elite, the Dodgers must fight off underdog teams to raise their world championship bid.
Toronto opens today’s interleague showcase with surprise rookie hurler Jacob Waguespack. Waguespack’s split time this season between AAA Buffalo and the Majors and has performed better in the bigs. Los Angeles sends All-Star Walker Buehler to the mound tonight. Buehler hopes to rebound from a poor showing vs. Florida.
Dodgers becoming too relaxed down the stretch
After another year spent dominating overwhelmed National League opponents, Los Angeles has become a bit complacent since beginning August on a 12-2 run. Will Smith and probable 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger combined for just two hits during Sunday’s 5-3 loss against Atlanta. What began as a mismatched series in Los Angeles’ favor quickly became an exercise in Dodgers offensively futility as Atlanta seized the weekend. Those Braves wins left greater doubts regarding Los Angeles’ generally unquestioned NL postseason authority.
Now, the onus lies on Bellinger, Smith, Turner, and Buehler to avoid playing again to their opposition’s level. Simply, Los Angeles must re-assert control while hosting Toronto.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 18, 2019
And Buehler must regain the form which brought him All-Star success this July. Following a 15 strikeout, one-run, complete-game mastery of San Diego August 3, Buehler fell recently while allowing five runs vs. Florida.
That lack of focus can not occur if the Dodgers hope to show the baseball world, and themselves, they can be the best this October.
Jays cooling after taste of success
Highly regarded Bo Bichette went 0-4 Sunday as Toronto ended its week by losing consecutive meetings vs. Seattle. These setbacks follow a 7-4 run where the Blue Jays split series’ with Tampa Bay and New York before taking a three-game set from Texas. Now, the Jays again resemble the rebuilding club which has struggled to find itself in the dog-eat-dog AL East.
Further, Toronto has fumbled this year against National League competition, going 2-11 during interleague play. Colorado, San Diego and San Francisco have each had their way with Toronto in 2019. And unless Los Angeles totally loses focus, they too should compound the Blue Jays’ NL struggles.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) August 18, 2019
However, tonight’s staring Jays pitcher, Jacob Waguespack, has shown a penchant for rising to the occasion. Waguespack (4-1, 4.20 ERA) held his own during Toronto’s August 10 win over the Yankees. Before that, the precocious rook tossed six scoreless innings as the Jays blanked Tampa Bay. Toronto is 4-2 when Waguespack opens. Overall, the 25-year-old has allowed 22 runs in 45 innings pitched and has the stuff to frustrate LAD’s hiccuping offense.
- Dodgers are 6-1 in their last 7 interleague home games vs. a team with a losing record.
- Dodgers are 43-12 in their last 55 home games.
- Dodgers are 12-4 in their last 16 interleague games vs. a team with a losing record.
- Dodgers are 101-42 in their last 143 home games vs. a team with a losing record.
- Blue Jays are 1-5 in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
- Blue Jays are 2-12 in their last 14 vs. National League West.
- Blue Jays are 0-4 in their last 4 interleague road games.
- Blue Jays are 1-6 in the last 7 meetings.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Los Angeles enjoys nearly every conceivable angle and trend for tonight’s contest. A simple record glance shows the Dodgers are heavily favored against an outmatched Toronto club ahead of what many view as another LAD layup. However, if Los Angeles’ offense again sputters, Waguespack can help his charge author another major upset. That scenario isn’t likely, but that’s why the game is played.
But don’t expect a Toronto win to play in this game. Instead, look for the Dodgers to assert themselves tonight as whispers of Atlanta’s recent victories serve as motivation.
Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers
Full-Game Total Pick
An official run total for this matchup isn’t available as of early Tuesday morning. But a struggling Jays offense should continue struggling against Walker Buehler. Also, Los Angeles’ fourth-ranked MLB run average will be kept in check by Waguespack.