Atlanta Braves (Kris Medlen) vs. LA Dodgers (Hiroki Kuroda) Preview and Pick – Line and Total

Atlanta Braves (31-22) Kris Medlen, at Los Angeles Dodgers (31-22)
Hiroki Kuroda, Dodger Stadium, Chavez Ravine, Calif., 10:10 PM EST,
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

by Badger of

Betting Line: Braves +125/Dodgers -135
Total: 8

Two of Major League Baseballs hottest teams will open a four-game
series out in Chavez Ravine Thursday night when the smoking-hot
Atlanta Braves kickoff the start of what will be an 11-game road trip
against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Dodger Stadium.

The series opener will feature an interesting pitching matchup
between the Braves reliever-turned-starter Kris Medlen and the
Dodgers imported lefty Hiroki Kuroda.

The Braves are the it team in the bigs right now, winning eight
straight including a huge three-game sweep of the NL East rival
Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves won the finale yesterday by a 2-1
score thanks to a six-hit, eight-inning gem from Derek Lowe, moving
2.5 games ahead of the Phillies in the standings.

Tonight the Braves will try and get another quality start out of
Medlen, who has made four starts since moving into the rotation due
to Jair Jurrjens arm injury. Atlanta is 3-1 in those starts, but two
of them came against the Pirates, so tonight will be a big test for
Medlen and the Braves to keep the Tomahawk chopping.

The Dodgers are also coming off of a series sweep handing the
Diamondbacks their 10th loss in a row with another walk-off victory,
this one on a single by Garrett Anderson in the 14th inning for a 1-0
win in the finale yesterday. The Dodgers, who have won four in a row
and went 20-8 in May, hope that Kuroda is able to stymie the Braves
and keep the Dodgers within a game of San Diego in the NL West.

Oddsmakers opened the game on the overnight line with the Dodgers and
Kuroda as -135 favorites at home and the number has not moved at all,
so you can still find the Braves as enticing +125 underdogs on the
dimeline. The over/under total is listed at 8 at most offshore
sportsbooks, with a few listing the total at 8.5 with extra juice on
the under.

Theres no doubt that handicapping this game is keyed by getting a
good read on Medlen, because like any young pitcher the book on him
is still being written.

His four starts in the rotation for Jurrjens have been all quality ones, although he does tend to put runners on base (.335 OBP, 29 H in
22 IP) and hes not fully stretched out for more than five innings
(5.1 ave). However, the California natives fastball is so heavy hes
a proto-type ground ball pitcher (1.36 GB:FB) and can wiggle off the
hook at times as his 2.85 ERA and his 2.2 runs allowed indicates.

Medlen has a 1-0 record versus the Dodgers in four appearances last
year, allowing seven hits and two runs over 7.2 innings pitched. Two
of those appearances came in Dodger Stadium, where he was nearly
perfect (3.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 6 K, 1 BB).

Kuroda was tagged in his last outing giving up a season-high seven
runs over four frames in an 11-3 loss to Colorado. But if you take
out his two starts against the Rockies (5 R in 5.1 IP the Rockies
have his number) all of his starts have been quality where hes
allowed three runs or less.

Kuroda has a very impressive resume against the Braves to fall back
on though, as he threw two good games against them in his career
(1-1, 1.20 ERA) including a one-hitter in a 3-0 victory in Dodgers
Stadium in July 2008.

The Braves took three out of four last season in Dodgers Stadium, including two in extra innings. Three of the four games went over the
total too, plus the over is 7-2-1 in Kurodas 10 starts this season.

Badgers Pick: Two hot teams facing questionable starters has me all
over the over in this one. Take the over of 8.