Ryan Knuppel  |  Fri 17th May   | MLB

The best team in the National League visits one of the worst this weekend as the Los Angeles Dodgers face the Cincinnati Reds. The Dodgers are -130 favorites for Friday’s series opener.

Surprisingly, the Reds have won five of their last seven games after taking a series from the Cubs earlier this week. Unfortunately, it’s not been enough to pull Cincinnati out of last place in the NL Central. The Reds are still four games under .500 and 6.5 games back in the division, which is disappointing after the club made several moves this winter aimed at being competitive in 2019.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles has seized control of the NL West, as they go for their seventh straight division title. With nine wins in their last 12 games, the Dodgers are 13 games over .500 and tied with Houston for the most wins in the majors. They’ve also opened up a rather comfortable 4.5-game lead in the NL West over the second-place Diamondbacks.

Just Getting Started

Rich Hill is in line to start for LA on Friday. As has become customary, Hill began the season on the Injured List, so this will only be his fourth start of the season. The lefty is yet to find his groove this year, allowing at least three runs in each of his three starts. Opposing batters are hitting .293 against him, so he’s yet to settle in, making this a good time for the Reds to be facing him.

Of course, scoring runs hasn’t been a strength for Cincinnati early in the season. Eugenio Suarez is leading the way, and Derek Dietrich has turned heads with 10 home runs early in the season, but the rest of the team has struggled to get going. Even Joey Votto and former Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig have underperformed. Slowly, the Reds have started to wake up offensively over the past week, but Hill could also put it all together and throw a gem at any point.

At Least He’s Healthy

Anthony DeSclafani, another injury-plagued pitcher, will start for the Reds on Friday. DeSclafani made 21 starts last season after missing all of 2017, but he’s been fine health-wise so far in 2019. His performance, however, has been inconsistent. He’s allowed one run or less in four of his eight starts, but he’s also had his fair share of problems in his other four starts, so there’s no telling how he’ll pitch. Even the lowly Giants have gotten to DeSclafani in his last two starts.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers have no shortage of offensive weapons. The likes of Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, Alex Verdugo, and Justin Turner have all excelled this season. Bellinger is hitting over .400 with 15 home runs on the season. Pederson, meanwhile, has mashed 13 homers and is 4 for 9 with two long balls in his career against DeSclafani. Corey Seager is also starting to swing a hot bat after sitting out most of last season.

A Little Too Much

Hill isn’t yet reliable to shut down a struggling Cincinnati lineup, but the Dodgers have too much offensively for DeSclafani and the Reds to handle. Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati is too small to hold all the power in the Los Angeles lineup. Bet on the Dodgers -130 to beat the Reds on Friday.

Ryan Knuppel