It’s all tied up.
Following a wild Game 4, the Rays and Dodgers enter tonight’s Kershaw-Glasnow matchup at two games apiece. So who takes the crucial Game 5?
Our experts offer their picks below, including a moneyline bet and one on the first five innings …
Advanced Stats Glossary
FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher’s ERA would look like if the pitcher experienced league-average defense and luck. xFIP is a regressed version of FIP that adjusts or “normalizes’ the home run component based on park factors.
wRC+ or Weighted Runs Created Plus takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for critical external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average, and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.
wOBA or Weighted On-Base Average is a catch-all hitting metric with more predictive value than on-base percentage. An average MLB hitter can be expected to post a .320 wOBA. xwOBA is a regressed version of wOBA that accounts for variables like park factors.
Michael Arinze: Dodgers ML (-162)
Every time you watch a baseball game there’s always the chance to witness something for the first time. That’s exactly what we saw in yesterday’s game as the Rays and Dodgers traded barbs much like a heavyweight fight with Tampa Bay delivering the decisive knockout blow in walk-off fashion. This series has gone back and forth and if you’ve applied the zig-zag theory then you should be up in units so far.
Prior to the start of the series, I projected that it would take the full seven games to decide a winner. This series is now essentially a best-of-three and I think that both teams have shown their vulnerabilities at different moments. I see no reason to buck the zig-zag trend as I especially fancy Clayton Kershaw in this matchup against Tyler Glasnow.
Kershaw navigated a shaky first inning in Game 1 with two runners on and one out before retiring the next two batters. From there, he really settled down and completed six innings while allowing only one run on two hits with eight strikeouts. To get an idea of how dominant Kershaw was in this outing, he had a 50% whiff rate on 38 swings by Rays hitters. That was his highest whiff rate in any outing in his career in which he threw at least 25 pitches. Kershaw really had his slider working as that was his put-away pitch on seven of his eight strikeouts.
As for Glasnow, he really struggled in the outing and failed to make it through the fifth inning. Glasnow’s propensity to issue walks resurfaced again as he gave up six free passes in just 4.1 innings of work. The Dodgers took advantage of his mistakes and touched him up for six runs. After already getting a look at Glasnow, I’m not sure he can offer something different this time around. Glasnow has an elite fastball but the Dodgers were ranked second with 53.9 runs above average against the fastball this season. Combine that with the fact that Los Angeles also had the lowest chase rate (26.5%) of any team on balls outside the zone and it could be another tough night for Glasnow.
The Dodgers were one out from winning the game yesterday and I like their chances to bounce back and keep the zig-zag trend alive. FanDuel is offering the Dodgers as -162 favorites and I can only look to back the favorite in this spot. This line is only going to go up but I’m fairly comfortable with it up to -165.
BJ Cunningham: First Five Innings Over 4.5 (+112)
Glansow’s effectiveness is dependent on his fastball, which averages nearly 97 mph and can top out over 100 mph, but it’s not just about power with Glasnow. He also has elite control of his heater, which he throws over 60% of the time.
Glasnow’s fastball is backed up by an elite curveball, which is allowing a meager .120 batting average and produced a 52.8% whiff rate.
Even though Glasnow has great stuff, he hasn’t been elite by any means in the postseason. He’s posted a 6.08 ERA, 3.97 xFIP, and has allowed seven homers in nine starts. Glasnow wasn’t sharp in Game 1, as he allowed six earned runs on eight hits and six walks in only 4.1 innings of work. So Glasnow better improve his control or we could have a repeat of Game 1.
The Dodgers have owned right-handers in 2020, reporting a .355 wOBA and an MLB-best 126 wRC+ against righties. Los Angeles’ offense has not been the issue during this series as the Dodgers have scored at least four runs in every game.
And what happens to be the one pitch the Dodgers annihilate? Fastballs. LA was second-best to only the Braves this season against fastballs, accumulating 53.9 weighted fastball runs. They rocked Tyler Glasnow in Game 1 for six runs. They’ll have another fantastic matchup against Glasnow who throws his fastball over 60% of the time.
He was solid in Game 1, only allowing two hits and one run over six innings. The reason Kershaw has been so good is because he’s been on point with his pitch arsenal, allowing a wOBA under .290 with each pitch.
Over the past few years his fastball has lost a lot of velocity, going from an average of 94.2 MPH in 2015 down to 91.8 MPH this season. However, that big dip in velocity hasn’t seemed to make a difference on its effectiveness, as it’s only allowing .203 average to opposing hitters in 2020.
Tampa Bay’s offense has relied on the long ball during the postseason. That hasn’t changed in the World Series, as they’ve hit eight in the first four games. However, the Rays are hitting for only a .213 average during the postseason.
Tampa Bay struggled versus Kershaw in Game 1, but they are one of the best teams in baseball against left-handed pitching, ranking sixth in MLB with a .343 wOBA and 121 wRC+. With Kershaw’s HR/9 rate being all the way up at 1.23 this year, the Rays could knock a couple out of the park against him.
So far this series, the first five innings have gone over every single game. With the way both offenses have been hitting the ball it doesn’t look like that trend is going to stop any time soon. Since both offenses have a good matchup again in Game 5, I am going to back the first five innings Over 4.5 at +112.