Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres Preview and Pick

Los Angeles Dodgers (2-1) - Hiroki Kuroda +107 at San Diego Padres
(3-1) - Justin Germano -115, 8 O/U, Petco Park, 10 PM EST, Friday

by Badger of Predictem.com

Japanese import Hiroki Kuroda makes his Major League Baseball debut Friday when the Los Angeles Dodgers make the short trip south to
start a three-game series verses the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

The Dodgers won the bidding war for Kuroda in the off-season, signing
the 33-year-old to a three-year, 35.3-million contract. Although he
was not as decorated and as sought-after as fellow Japanese star
Kosuke Fukudome (who signed with the Cubs), the right-handed Kuroda
has a 103-89 record in his 11-year career, is a three-time All-Star
and was named the leagues most valuable pitcher in 2005.

The Padres will trot right-hander Justin Germano to the mound to
oppose Kuroda. Germano was lights out when he was first called up the
big leagues last May, going 4-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his first five
starts. Since then though Germano is 3-10 with a 5.28 ERA, including
a less than stellar 0-4 record and 7.59 ERA in his five appearances
versus the Dodgers.

Despite Germanos struggles against the Dodger Blue, the Padres are a
slight -115 favorite on the moneyline. Kuroda will pitch as a +107
underdog in his debut, and the over/under total is 8 in spacious
Petco Park.


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The Padres come into the game sitting in first place in the NL West
with a 3-1 record. They beat the Houston 3-2 on Thursday to take
three-out-of-four versus the Astros to open the year. More
importantly, Padres closer Trevor Hoffman knocked down the save in
Thursdays contest, less than 24 hours after giving up a 3-run
homerun to Houstons Lance Berkman in the 9th inning to blow the save
and prevent the Padres from gaining the four-game sweep.

The Dodgers enter the weekend series with a 2-1 record after losing
their first game of the season Thursday, a 2-1 loss to the San
Francisco Giants that was interrupted by rain throwing both pitching
staffs into turmoil. Kuroda will look to improve on his average
spring, as he allowed 13 runs in his 23.2 innings in Florida. He did
strike out 17, and showed excellent control by only walking four
hitters.

Offensively neither team is really stroking the ball right now, but
that may be more due to the parks they play in than their everyday
lineups. San Diego is averaging 3.75 runs per game so far (15 runs in
4 games), while the Dodgers have relied on their pitching to carry
them as they are averaging just 3 runs per game (9 runs in 3 games).

Dodger first baseman James Loney has been carrying LAs offense on
his back so far this season, going 5-for-9 out of the gate. Loney
also has a strong history against the Padres in his short career (.
417, 2 HR, 11 RBI), especially versus Germano (4-for-8, HR, 2 2B).

The Padres on the other hand have enjoyed a two-headed offensive
attack. Believe it or not, light-hitting Scott Hairston is filling in
well for injured outfielder Jim Edmonds as he is off to a 6-for-15
start with 2 HR, a triple, 4 runs and 3 RBI. Third baseman Kevin
Kouzmanoff is off to a decent start as well (5-for-17), including a 2-
run jack in Thursdays game. Like Loney, Kouzmanoff enjoys playing
versus the Dodgers, as he has hit .317 with three homeruns and eight
RBIs in his 17 games versus them last season.

The most obvious betting trend heading into Fridays game is the
under, as it has cashed in for all three of the Dodgers games this
season and in three of the four Padres games. With solid pitching and
big ballparks, this is not much of a surprise really. It will be
interesting to see if the trend continues tonight though, as Germano
is the weakest pitcher in the Padre rotation and Kuroda may suffer a
little MLB-debut jitters.

With both teams already involved in multiple one-run games, the run
line bet has not offered much value. The Dodgers are 1-2 on the run
line, while San Diego is 1-3 so far this season.

Badgers Pick: I normally shy away from pitchers making major league
debuts, but Kuroda is not a typical rookie. Hes a control, pitch-to-
contact type pitcher that should thrive with the big outfield at
Petco. Plus, Germanos history versus the Dodgers makes the underdog
Kuroda the best value in this game. Take the Dodgers +107 on the
moneyline.