Sept. 21 MLB Picks and Preview — Colorado Rockies (66-88) at Los Angeles Dodgers (99-55)

(Cody Bellinger photo courtesy Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.

When and Where: Saturday, Sept. 21, Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, Calif., 9:10 p.m. EDT.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are pitching for the playoffs, which means Walker Buehler gets the ball a day earlier Saturday night as the NL West champions continue their series against the Colorado Rockies.

Gonzalez looks to rein in wildness for Rox

There had been talk of Rockies manager Bud Black using Kyle Freeland as an opener for this game after he threw 50 pitches in a simulated game Tuesday, but he has opted for Chi Chi Gonzlez (1-6, 6.23 ERA).

The right-hander has pitched fairly well his last three starts, limiting opponents to four runs in 16 1-3 innings, but control issues prevented him from notching back-to-back winning starts last time out. Gonzalez walked five in four innings Sunday versus San Diego, with his lone mistake a solo homer before exiting Colorado’s 10-5 victory.

Gonzalez has not recorded a decision in two starts versus the Dodgers this year, yielding five runs and eight hits with five walks in 10 1-3 innings. He gave up two runs and three hits in a season-best 6 1-3 innings on Sept. 3 at Chavez Ravine in a 5-3 Rockies defeat.

Buehler moves up as Roberts tweaks Dodgers rotation for playoffs

Looking to win a third straight National League pennant and their first World Series title since 1988, manager Dave Roberts is slotting his rotation together for the National League Division Series, which will open in Los Angeles on Oct. 3.

The Dodgers are also looking to secure their second 100-win season in three years and eighth in franchise history.

By starting Buehler (13-3, 3.15), Roberts looks to be lining up the 25-year-old for the NLDS opener, followed by Jyun-Hin Ryu for Game 2 — Ryu has been outstanding at home this season — and turning to three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw for Game 3 on the road. This set-up would also allow Buehler to be a potential Game 5 starter if necessary.

All Roberts offered pregame Friday about the flip in his rotation is that “things can change.”

And it starts with Buehler, who is making just his third start since Sept. 2 as he flips spots this weekend with Ryu. The right-hander is looking to extend his personal winning streak to four games and has been superb in all but one start over his last five, striking out 36 in 30 innings and giving up eight runs — six of them coming in a win over Colorado on Sept. 2.

Buehler did not get a decision Sunday at Citi Field versus the New York Mets, working around one poor inning to throw five overall. Roberts pulled Buehler after 71 pitches as he opted to let Kenley Jansen and Kenta Maeda get some relief work.

Buehler is 3-0 with a 5.84 ERA in four games versus the Rockies this year but was lit up for 13 runs and 21 hits over 10 2-3 innings in the last two. The righty did fire a three-hitter with a career-high 16 strikeouts in a 3-2 home win June 21 and is 4-1 with a 3.61 ERA in 10 career starts versus Colorado.

That includes a 3-0 record and 2.41 ERA in five starts at home, where he has held Rockies hitters to a .145 batting average while fanning 42 in 33 2-3 innings.

Notable Trends

The Dodgers are:

  • 53-17 in their last 70 home games.
  • 63-29 in their last 92 games vs. NL West opponents.
  • 18-5 in Buehler’s last 23 starts vs. NL West opponents.

The Rockies are:

  • 6-20 in their last 26 Saturday games.
  • 14-37 in their last 51 during game 2 of a series.
  • 4-13 in their last 17 games vs. above-.500 teams.

*****5-Star Pick*****

Dodgers OVER 5.5 runs (-115)

A confidence pick in the Dodgers continuing to pound Rockies pitching as they set their sights on a milestone victory. Los Angeles has scored six or more runs in 11 of the 17 meetings between the teams and five or more in the last six.

****4-Star Pick****

Dodgers -1.5 runs (-186)

Even with Buehler being moved up a day, the Dodgers and the run line are a firm pick. Buehler is 6-0 with a 2.64 ERA in 13 home starts this year with 107 strikeouts in 85 1-3 innings. It also would not be surprising to see Roberts let Buehler go in this one and let him get near 100 pitches to air his arm out.

OVER 8.5 runs (-115)

Even with Gonzalez’s recent success, his lack of control gives it the feel it could be fleeting. The Dodgers have also hung 40 runs on the Rockies in their last four meetings in Los Angeles.

Colorado has also barreled up Buehler well in the last two starts, so a minimum “quality start” outing in which he gives up three runs in six innings could be enough to see the over through.

The over is 4-1-1 in the last six meetings between the teams in Los Angeles and 9-2 in Colorado’s last 11 on the road against teams with a home winning percentage of at least .600.

***3-Star Picks***

Dodgers -1.5 runs first 5 innings (-121)

An alternate line courtesy, this pick is riding Buehler’s home form and the Dodgers offense. Los Angeles has led at the midway point in the right-hander’s last eight starts at Chavez Ravine and by more than one run in four of them.

OVER 4.5 runs first 5 innings (-125)

Though the Rockies did get to Buehler in the last meeting at Chavez Ravine with six runs in five innings, that has been the exception rather than the rule when he pitches at home — Buehler had not given up a run in the first five frames in his previous four starts in Los Angeles.

That prevents an overly aggressive play here, but Los Angeles’ offense should do the heavy lifting to help clear this number.

Dodgers OVER 1.5 runs first 3 innings (-115)

This is an anti-Gonzalez pick more than a pro-Dodgers one as Los Angeles has been held under two runs in the first three innings in three of their seven home games versus the Rockies. But Gonzalez has a 7.59 ERA in the first inning and a 5.28 cumulative ERA in the opening three frames, along with five home runs allowed.

With the Dodgers averaging 7.8 runs in the season series, the over is worth the play here.

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