Aug. 16 MLB Preview — San Diego Padres (56-64) at Philadelphia Phillies (63-58)

(Bryce Harper photo courtesy Bill Streicher/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: Friday, Aug. 16, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pa., 7:05 p.m. EDT.

And that is why the Philadelphia Phillies were willing to spend $330 million for Bryce Harper.

Looking to sustain the momentum of his walkoff grand slam that completed a sweep of the Chicago Cubs, Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies try to gain ground in the National League wild-card chase Friday night when they begin a three-game series versus the San Diego Padres.

Is Paddack hitting rookie wall for Padres?

Chris Paddack (7-5, 3.26 ERA) has not pitched all that badly for the Padres in failing to register a decision in back-to-back starts, but the 23-year-old was not at his best as he is unchartered territory in terms of workload in a season.

Paddack has surpassed 100 innings in a season for the first time at any level in his career and had a middling performance Saturday against Colorado, giving up three runs and five hits in six innings of San Diego’s 8-5 win. He has given up nine runs and 11 hits over 10 innings in his last two outings, with seven of those hits going for extra bases.

“I still felt like it wasn’t my best,” Paddack told the Padres’ official website. “I’m never really going to settle for being all right, when I know that I could’ve done a little better job of making some pitches.”

One of the worst starts of his rookie season came at home June 4 against the Phillies, who chased him after totaling six runs and eight hits — including home runs by Jay Bruce and Scott Kingery — in 4 1-3 innings of a 9-6 victory.

San Diego (56-64) likely will be without a key piece of its offense as star rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. is expected to be put on the injured list with a back injury. The 20-year-old Tatis, who is hitting .317 with 22 homers in just 84 games, suffered the injury Tuesday, and a decision is expected to be made before game-time.

Harper heating up at opportune time for Phils

With 25 homers and 87 RBIs in his first season with the Phillies, it is hard to say Harper has failed to meet expectations as his new team has failed to put together prolonged stretches of solid play either pitching or hitting to make a run at the NL East lead.

But the wild cards are within grasp as Philadelphia (63-58) moved within one game of the Chicago Cubs for the second spot after Harper unloaded on a 2-2 offering from Derek Holland to lift the Phillies to a 7-5 victory.

Harper has found his power stroke of late, going 12 for 39 (.308) with six homers in his last 10 games and recording a pair of multihomer efforts. He has hit 15 of his 25 round-trippers at home, including four in his last five contests there.

Vincent Velasquez (4-7, 4.30) will try to stay on pattern considering he has alternated wins and losses in his last four starts. The right-hander was done in by a pair of long balls in San Francisco on Saturday as they accounted for two of the three hits and all three runs yielded in five innings of Philadelphia’s 3-1 defeat.

“It was one of those days where you’re kind of dealing with adversity and you’re trying to find something that works,” he noted about his outing to the Phils’ official website. “You’re going to have outings like this where things are not going to go your way. You’re not going to feel great. You’re not going to have a lot of life on your fastball. It’s a matter of finding ways of getting outs.”

Velasquez made a relief appearance against San Diego in the previous series between the teams, retiring all four batters he faced in Philadelphia’s 7-5 win June 5. He was lights out versus the Padres in two previous starts against them, striking out 23 in 16 shutout innings.

The righty had the best game of his career against San Diego in 2016, striking out 16 and firing a three-hitter for his only shutout, and then fanned seven in seven innings of a 5-0 victory July 22, 2018.

Notable Trends

The Phillies are:

  • 7-3 in Velasquez’s last 10 home starts.
  • 13-5 in their last 18 home games vs. the Padres.
  • 5-2 in Velasquez’s last seven home starts vs. sub-.500 teams.

The Padres are:

  • 2-9 in their last 11 games vs. NL East teams.
  • 3-9 in their last 12 during game 1 of a series.
  • 2-6 in Paddack’s last eight road starts.

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

Phillies -0.5 runs first 5 innings (+115)

Though both teams are 3-1-1 in their last five games over Velasquez’s and Paddack’s starts, respectively, Paddack’s fortunes have taken a downturn on the road. San Diego is 2-5-4 at the midway point in the rookie’s 11 starts outside Petco Park and also 3-8-2 in its last 13 on the road.

The Phillies have been all over the map recently in the first five innings, with a 14-run swing in the final two games of their series against the Cubs by going from up nine to down five, but the hedge is momentum from Thursday night and San Diego’s flagging run form delivers a win here.

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

Phillies ML (-115)

The hedge is that the Phillies will be able to sustain the momentum of Thursday night’s win while taking advantage of Paddack as he tries to solve his recent woes. Additionally, Velasquez’s ridiculous yet limited results against San Diego is another reason to be confident Philadelphia continues its roll.

***3-Star Picks***

UNDER 9 runs (-110)

The under has been solidly trending with Velasquez in this type of matchup, going 7-1 in his last eight starts against teams with a losing record and 4-1 in his last five such matchups at home. The under also 9-4 in Philadelphia’s last 13 games versus sub-.500 teams and 8-2 in the last 10 between the teams at Citizens Bank Park.

While Paddack has not been as effective on the road as at home, the under is still trending with him, going 3-1-1 in his last five outside Petco Park and 4-1 in his last five against NL East foes.

Nationals Harper to HR (+275)

A hunch pick that Harper continues his power surge given his favorable home splits with regards to his home run percentage. Also of note is that three of his home runs in his last four games have come against lefties.

Harper is a lifetime .333 hitter with nine homers in 23 games versus San Diego, with five of them coming in home games while with Washington. His form, and Washington’s in general, makes it worth the flyer.

UNDER 5 runs first 5 innings (-115)

At best, San Diego has scored runs infrequently on the road for Paddack, with the under 8-3 in his last 11 road starts. Prior to his last road outing against the Dodgers, the Padres had totaled 14 runs in the first five innings of those games.

The five-inning under is 6-3 in Philadelphia’s last nine games and 5-3 in Velasquez’s last eight. The hope is the Phillies right-hander continues his dominant form against the Padres to deliver here.

UNDER 0.5 runs/NO 1st inning run (+105)

A pair of converging trends make this a worthy flyer at plus-money. Velasquez has not conceded a first-inning run in any of his five starts at home and has been nicked just once in his last six outings overall.

Paddack has a 1.80 ERA in the opening frame on the season, giving up four runs in his 20 starts, and has held opponents scoreless in the bottom of the first 10 times in 11 road starts. He also has gotten through the first unscathed in his last six outings and been reached for runs just three times overall.

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