Colorado Rockies vs Arizona Diamondbacks (Saturday 10:40am AEST)
The Arizona Diamondbacks, fresh off a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers, are now in prime position to host the National League Wild Card game, and they are $1.90 favourites to continue that form over their NL West division rivals, the Colorado Rockies ($1.92), in the first of three weekend games at Coors Field.
Taijuan Walker will start on the mound for the Diamondbacks having won his last start against Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants at home on August 27. However, that was his first win as a starting pitcher since June 22, which came on the road against the Colorado Rockies. Walker also pitched more than six innings in his last start; the first time that's occurred in nine games.
Kyle Freeland will be the starting pitcher for the Rockies and comes into this contest with an 11-8 record this season. Freeland has been solid in his past eight starts going 3-1, and in six of those starts, he allowed 14 earned runs in games where he pitched five or more innings.
As the betting indicates, this game is a flip of the coin. Even though Arizona have won their last seven games, Taijuan Walker's lack of wins as a starting pitcher in the past two months is a concern, which tips the scales just in favour of Kyle Freeland and Colorado at home.
San Diego Padres vs Los Angeles Dodgers (Saturday 12:10pm AEST)
It's not panic stations yet for the Dodgers, but a five-game losing streak a month out from the postseason isn't tremendous. However, the Dodgers will welcome back their ace pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, from injury, and they are $1.40 favourites to snap their losing skid in the first of three weekend clashes against the San Diego Padres ($3) at Petco Park.
Kershaw last pitched on July 24 before heading to the disabled list with a lower back strain. He has compiled a 15-2 record this season, still remains first in the National League with the lowest earned run average (ERA) per game of 2.04, and is third for wins by a starting pitcher (15) despite missing a month of action. In his last six starts, he allowed two earned runs, and they were scored in the same game.
Dinelson Lamet takes the mound for the Padres with the unenviable task of pitching against Kershaw. Lamet has a 7-5 record this season, and has been miserly in his past seven starts with only 12 earned runs conceded. However, he has only pitched more than six innings on two occasions.
The Dodgers manager, Dave Roberts, has indicated that Kershaw will be on a likely 75-pitch limit, and with the playoffs only a month ago, caution will be the key. Even though Kershaw has only had one rehab start, his class should be enough to help the Dodgers halt their losing streak at five.