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How to bet Dodgers-Diamondbacks NLDS

Clayton Kershaw will start Game 1 of the NLDS for the Dodgers. AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Although the Los Angeles Dodgers had a losing record this year against both of their potential division series opponents, given their past struggles against left-handed pitching, you figured they had to be rooting for the Colorado Rockies in the wild-card game. By advancing to the division series, the Arizona Diamondbacks can throw southpaws Robbie Ray and Patrick Corbin against the Dodgers, along with their ace Zack Greinke, who defected from Los Angeles in free agency. That's a much more formidable rotation than the Rockies could have ever presented.

Still, Arizona is handing the ball to right-hander Taijuan Walker in Game 1, which makes sense given Ray's two-plus innings of work in the wild-card game 48 hours earlier. Also, to be fair, the Dodgers' struggles with left-handed pitching peaked last year, when they had an astounding .149 OPS deficit (.623 versus .772) when comparing their production against left-handers versus right-handers. The league average difference was .003.

To be honest, the Dodgers have no need to fear any matchup. They won an MLB-high 104 games this season, the most since the storied franchise moved west from Brooklyn. In a year when teams collectively scored more runs than in any year since 2008, the Dodgers gave up the fewest runs as a franchise since 2003. As has been the case every year for the past nine seasons, the run suppression was led by Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw has had some fine moments in the postseason, which conveniently gets ignored when commentators drag out the "Kershaw chokes in the postseason" narrative. But it's still striking that in his 89 innings of postseason work, Kershaw has a 4.55 ERA, which is sky-high when compared to his truly astounding 2.36 career ERA.

This will be Walker's first postseason appearance, but his fifth against the Dodgers overall, against whom he has an unsightly 4.79 ERA. We're parsing a small sample to begin with, but dig a bit deeper, and you'll find that in his three starts this year as a member of the Diamondbacks, he went 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings.

I'm off to a good start in the playoffs thus far, having backed the winning team in Game 1 of both American League contests. After having split the wild-card games, I'm 3-1 (+2.00 units) as the National League Divisional Series play begins. For the other three series, I've backed the favorites, and this series has the biggest favorite of all four division series matchups. The question for baseball bettors is whether the price is rich enough to entice a play on the underdog.