Dodgers vs. Pirates: Analyzing the Matchup

Dodgers vs. Pirates: Analyzing the Matchup

Date:  Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Time: 6:40 p.m. ET

Arena: PNC Park,

The Los Angeles Dodgers face the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight in the second game of a three-game series at PNC Park. The Pirates are coming off a tight 1-0 victory, and the Dodgers will be looking to avoid a series sweep.

Let’s dive into the matchup and see which pick is the way to go.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Team Analysis

The Dodgers are one of MLB’s most storied franchises, known for their powerful lineup and deep roster. However, they have struggled recently, particularly in their offense. The Dodgers’ batting average currently stands at .250, indicating a decent but not overpowering offense. This figure becomes more concerning when we consider their recent form against top-tier pitchers, where they have found it challenging to string together hits and drive in runs.

Key Player to Watch: Freddie Freeman

Freddie Freeman, a veteran and a pivotal player for the Dodgers, acknowledges the pressure that comes with facing hyped-up prospects like Paul Skenes. His experience and performance will be crucial in breaking through Skenes’ pitching tonight.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Team Analysis

The Pirates, on the other hand, are a team building for the future. Their batting average of .243 shows a lineup that is still finding its consistency but has potential. The Pirates’ recent victory showcased their ability to win close games, a testament to their growing confidence and capability to perform under pressure.

Key Player to Watch: Jack Suwinski

Jack Suwinski’s home run in the previous game was crucial for the Pirates’ victory. His return from Triple-A and immediate impact suggest he could be a key player again tonight, especially if he can replicate his success against the Dodgers’ pitching.

Starting Pitchers

Paul Skenes (Pirates)

Paul Skenes, the Pirates’ top overall pick in the 2023 draft, has quickly made a name for himself. With a record of 2-0 and a 2.45 ERA, Skenes has been impressive. His fastball, reaching triple digits, and his effective “splinker” (split-finger fastball) make him a formidable opponent. In his last 18 innings, he has allowed just 3 runs on 9 hits while striking out 23 batters. His ability to control the game and finish off hitters has been remarkable.

James Paxton (Dodgers)

James Paxton, the experienced left-hander for the Dodgers, brings a solid track record into tonight’s game. With a 5-0 record and a 3.29 ERA, Paxton has been reliable for the Dodgers this season. However, he needs to be cautious against hitters like Suwinski, who have shown they can capitalize on mistakes. Paxton’s previous performance against the Pirates, though not recent, provides some historical context but not a definitive indicator of tonight’s outcome.

Top MLB Prediction Models

Here are the models we’ll reference for our prediction:

  1. FiveThirtyEight – Total Runs: 7.5
  2. FanGraphs – Total Runs: 8.1
  3. Baseball Prospectus – Total Runs: 7.8
  4. OddsTrader – Total Runs: 7.9
  5. ESPN – Total Runs: 8.0

Using the Pythagorean theorem for the expected winning percentage and factoring in the strength of the schedule, we derive predictions from each model:

  • FiveThirtyEight: Dodgers win 54%, Pirates win 46%
  • FanGraphs: Dodgers win 52%, Pirates win 48%
  • Baseball Prospectus: Dodgers win 55%, Pirates win 45%
  • OddsTrader: Dodgers win 53%, Pirates win 47%
  • ESPN: Dodgers win 50%, Pirates win 50%

Why Betting Under 8 Runs is a Smart Choice

  • Pitching Matchup

The primary reason for considering under 8 total runs is the strength of the starting pitchers. Both Skenes and Paxton have shown they can dominate on the mound. Skenes’ ability to strike out hitters and limit runs, combined with Paxton’s experience and solid ERA, suggests a low-scoring affair.

  • Recent Performance

In their last game, the Dodgers and Pirates combined for just 9 hits and 1 run, indicating offensive struggles and strong pitching. With both teams failing to capitalize on scoring opportunities (0-for-17 with runners in scoring position), it’s likely we will see another game where runs are hard to come by.

  • Trends and Conditions

The weather in Pittsburgh is expected to be fair, with no significant impact on the game. However, trends favor a lower-scoring game given the Dodgers’ recent offensive difficulties and the Pirates’ ability to win tight games. Additionally, the Pirates have won 9 of their last 14 meetings with the Dodgers, often in low-scoring contests.

  • Pythagorean Theorem and Strength of Schedule

Using the Pythagorean theorem for the expected winning percentage and considering the strength of the schedule, the average prediction models suggest a total run line close to the set over/under of 8 runs. The models from FiveThirtyEight, FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, OddsTrader, and ESPN all indicate total runs in the range of 7.5 to 8.1. My prediction, considering these factors, aligns with the models suggesting the total runs will be under 8.


As the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight, all signs point towards a low-scoring game. With Paul Skenes and James Paxton on the mound, both teams’ recent performance trends, and the comprehensive prediction models all supporting under 8 total runs, this bet offers a calculated and informed approach.

Stay tuned for what promises to be an exciting matchup, and keep an eye on how these predictions unfold.


Pick: Under 8 Lose