July 23 MLB Preview — San Diego Padres (47-52) at New York Mets (45-54)

(Chris Paddack photo courtesy Jasen Vinlove/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: Tuesday, July 23, Citi Field, Queens, N.Y., 7:10 p.m. EDT.

After nearly providing an elusive first in Padres franchise history, rookie Chris Paddack looks to extend his string of solid starts Tuesday night when San Diego opens a three-game series versus the New York Mets.

Padres still lone MLB team without a no-hitter despite Paddack’s best effort

The 23-year-old Paddack (6-4, 2.70 ERA) clearly benefitted from a 10-day “break” last month in which the Padres (47-52) assigned him to Lake Elsinore to make sure they did not overwork him.

In the four starts since being recalled, the right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.48 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 24 1-3 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .134 batting average. Paddack, though, had a little extra Wednesday in Miami, setting down the first 15 batters he faced and carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning before Starlin Castro belted a leadoff homer.

Paddack retired two more batters before being lifted following a two-out single and finished with eight strikeouts. But after coming within six outs of the first no-hitter in the 50-year history of the Padres, the plaudits were plentiful after Paddack featured a quality curve to go with his fastball and changeup.

“It’s harder to go into the box as a hitter knowing you have to respect three pitches,” catcher Austin Hedges told the Padres’ official website about Paddack adding the curve to his arsenal. “When you go in [against two], honestly, you can flip a coin and sit on a pitch, and you might be able to get away with it. When a guy can throw three pitches, it’s harder to sit on a pitch and wait him out.”

The righty had a dynamite start against the Mets on May 6, striking out a season-high 11 and scattering four singles in 7 2-3 innings of a 4-0 victory. Paddack is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA in nine road starts, with both wins coming against NL East teams.

San Diego is 2-4 entering the final leg of a nine-game road swing, having dropped two of three in both Miami and Chicago. The Padres, though, did avoid a sweep by the Cubs with a 5-1 win Sunday and are looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since the All-Star break.

Vargas looks to sharpen up after grinding out win

Jason Vargas (4-5, 4.25) could still be moved to a contender by the July 31 trade deadline, but at the same time, the market appears to be thin for a left-hander who relies more on control than power.

Vargas also has not showcased himself well of late, going 1-2 with a 6.61 ERA in his last three starts and allowing 12 runs and 17 hits — including five home runs — over 16 1-3 innings in that stretch.

The lefty, though, picked up that win in his most recent outing after limiting Minnesota to three runs and five hits, including a pair of solo homers, in a 14-4 road win Wednesday. It was the sixth straight start Vargas has served up at least one gopher ball, and eight of the 13 he has yielded have come over 31 1-3 innings in that stretch.

Vargas was on the injured list with a strained hamstring when the Mets (45-54) visited San Diego in May and has only faced them once since 2011. That start last year was a disaster as San Diego teed off on the southpaw for nine runs in 3 2-3 innings en route to a 12-2 victory.

New York had Monday off after dropping three of four in San Francisco, pushing the Giants to extra innings in all three losses, but did finish the trip 5-4.

Rookie Pete Alonso, who went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts versus Paddack in May, had three homers on the trip and is third in the National League with 33. He already holds the club’s rookie records for homers and RBIs (75) in a season.

Notable Trends

The Mets are:

  • 1-9 in their last 10 home games following a road trip of seven days or longer.
  • 1-6 in Vargas’ last seven starts vs. NL West teams.
  • 6-18 in their last 24 during game 1 of a series.

The Padres are:

  • 4-1 in Paddack’s last five starts with five days of rest.

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

UNDER 8.5 runs (-121)

The hook is the key at the moment, though if this line does reach nine runs, it would be an all-in pick. The under is riding a five-game run with the Padres and is also 6-0 in their last six matchups with left-handed starters.

The under is also trending for the Padres against the NL East, going 6-2-1 in the last nine matchups, and 6-1 when Paddack pitches on five days’ rest.

Vargas has also done his part to deliver the under, which is an impressive 12-0-1 in the southpaw’s last 13 starts at Citi Field. The under is 6-0-1 in his last seven home starts against sub-.500 teams and 8-3-3 in his last 14 overall.

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

UNDER 4.5 runs first 5 innings (-121)

Paddack’s form and Vargas’ stinginess at home are the two keys in being confident in the under, which is at least backed on New York’s end in terms of recent trends. The five-inning under is riding an eight-game unbeaten run (5-0-3) and has delivered in three of Paddack’s four starts since his break.

***3-Star Picks***

Padres ML (-136)

One fabulous start and a few good ones preceding it aside, this space is not ready to trust the Padres offense to take a flyer on the run line given they have dropped 16 of their last 25 on the road.

That said, Paddack keeps showing himself to be the real deal, and even with a day off, the Mets could be sluggish in this series opener after a cross-country flight. New York also did not acquit itself well against a Giants team that threw a pair of rookie starters at them, getting just a pair of solo homers among six hits against Tyler Beede and Conner Menez over 13 innings.

Mets UNDER 3.5 runs (-105)

A logical pick in taking the Padres and the under, but also in how the Mets struggled together to piece together rallies in their most recent series. New York has scored three or fewer runs in four of its last six contests, and San Diego has also held opponents to three or fewer runs in six of its last nine on the road.

Mets +0.5 runs (-110)

This is a toss-up to a large degree because the Mets have trailed after five innings just once in their last eight games (3-1-4), and the Padres are 2-0-1 at that point the last three times Paddack has taken the mound.

San Diego, though, has not led at the midway point since Paddack’s last start and is 3-5-2 in its last 10 on the road.

Mets UNDER 2 runs first 5 innings (-131)

This is a confidence pick in Paddack continuing his form, as the rookie was one fifth-inning, pinch-hit, two-run homer by Pittsburgh’s Jose Osuna on June 22 from not allowing a run in the first five innings over four consecutive starts.

The Mets have also scored two or fewer runs in the first five innings in 14 of their last 19 games, including six of nine since the All-Star break.


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