The Los Angeles Dodgers will send their ace to the hill in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Friday as they visit the Milwaukee Brewers as solid road favorites at sportsbooks.
Clayton Kershaw will toe the rubber for Los Angeles (9-5, 2.73 ERA) off arguably the most dominant postseason performance of his career, throwing eight scoreless innings against the Atlanta Braves in Game 2 of the NL Division Series, allowing only two hits with no walks and three strikeouts.
MLB betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 4.6-4.0, Dodgers (MLB picks on every game)
Why the Dodgers can pay on the MLB lines
If the Dodgers are going to advance to the World Series for the second year in a row and potentially win it versus either the Houston Astros or Boston Red Sox, Kershaw will undoubtedly play a vital role. His previous shortcomings in the playoffs will be a thing of the past if he can continue to come through in the clutch like he did in the NLDS.
The 30-year-old southpaw does not need to strike out 10-plus batters in an outing to be effective at this stage of his career, but he must remain focused and healthy. As long as that is the case here, then Los Angeles will earn a victory in the series opener.
Why the Brewers can pay on the MLB lines
Milwaukee is hoping to capitalize on home-field advantage in this series, starting right away in Game 1. The Brewers owned the best home record in the NL during the regular season at 51-30, and you can bet that the atmosphere will be electric at Miller Park.
The Brewers acquired veteran lefty Gio Gonzalez (10-11, 4.21 ERA) from the Washington Nationals for moments like this and are counting on his experience and leadership in this key spot. Gonzalez will be making his first appearance of the postseason after Milwaukee swept the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS, and his ERA with the team is 2.13.
Smart betting pick
This matchup is even on paper and will likely come down to whichever team's pitchers do a better job. While that is not rocket science from a handicapping perspective, it is noteworthy nonetheless.
The Dodgers have a better starting rotation, but the Brewers have a better bullpen, so each team has an edge in that department.
Milwaukee went 5-0 in the five starts Gonzalez made following his arrival from Washington, according to the OddsShark MLB Database, and he will give his team a chance to pull off the upset by pitching well. Take the Brewers as home underdogs.
MLB betting trends
The total has gone over in four of Los Angeles' last six games on the road.
Milwaukee is 5-0 in its last five games at home
The total has gone over in eight of Milwaukee's last 12 games at home against Los Angeles.
All MLB odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.