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Author: Michael Arinze
Phillies vs. Padres Odds
|Time||8:40 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via FanDuel.|
The San Diego Padres sure picked a bad time for a slump. After building a comfortable lead for the second Wild Card spot, the Padres are now just a half-game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds.
The Padres will try to rebound from another loss as the Phillies took the series opener 4-3. Joe Musgrove is set to start the middle game for San Diego, and Aaron Nola will oppose him for Philadelphia.
The Padres have been mired in a slump as they’re 2-8 in their last 10 games and on a four-game losing streak.
However, the one bright spot for them is they’ve had success this season at limiting losing streaks to no more than four games.
Nola’s Metrics are Worrying for Phillies
Nola comes into this game with a 7-7 record, a 4.48 ERA, and a 1.17 WHIP. Straightaway, you might recognize the dichotomy between the ERA and WHIP, which should suggest that something’s amiss. If you look even deeper, you’ll find that he has a 3.60 xERA and 3.55 FIP, which points to some positive regression.
Last week I touched on some fundamental issues that continue to hinder his progress. Nola has lacked consistency this season, and I now believe the Louisiana native has completely lost confidence in his pitch arsenal.
One of the points I touched on in the piece was that Nola is throwing his four-seam fastball more than ever (39%). Per Baseball Savant, opposing hitters have the highest batting average / wOBA (.271 / .368) against the pitch. It’s bewildering why he continues to throw it as much as he does, considering that he’s not having great success with it.
He’s also nearly abandoned his sinker as its usage dropped from 20.7% last season to 11.1% this season. That’s a big reason why his 1.01 GB/FB ratio is the worst of his career. I suspect we’ll continue to see more mixed performances until he shows more conviction in throwing his sinker.
Can Musgrove Regain Form for San Diego?
If you’re searching for answers to explain the Padres dip in form, you might want to start with how Musgrove leads the rotation with eight wins this season. The California native was brought in to be the fourth or fifth starter, and yet, he’s arguably been San Diego’s best pitcher. His 3.11 ERA is also the lowest mark among San Diego’s starters, and while his 3.63 xERA and 3.47 FIP both point to some regression, the disparity isn’t large enough to be too worrisome.
Musgrove is looking to bounce back from a disappointing performance in his last start. The right-hander surrendered six runs in five innings against the worst team in the National League in the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had four straight quality starts before that outing and had a stretch of 19 innings with only two earned runs during the span.
If you had to decide between which of the two starting pitchers are more likely to regain their form, Musgrove should probably be your pick. He’s certainly been the steadier of the two when you consider that his 1.40 GB/FB and 1.01 HR/9 ratios are both better than that of Nola’s.
He’ll be facing a Phillies team that he’s 2-0 against in three appearances with a 1.20 ERA. I’d expect him to be fully aware of those numbers. As a result, I think he’ll be brimming with confidence heading into this matchup.
It’ll be interesting to see how often Nola uses his four-seamer against the Padres. Per FanGraphs, San Diego is 15.4 runs above average when facing the pitch. The Padres are also 8.1 runs above average against the curveball, which has been Nola’s best pitch (.190 BA / .181 xBA) this season.
In my opening, I mentioned that San Diego has successfully avoided lengthy losing streaks this season. Padres’ fans should take some comfort in knowing that they’re a perfect 3-0 in this spot.
In fact, the Padres are 91-86 for 8.61 units when they’re on a losing streak of four or more games. I think some of that is already priced into the line, with San Diego as high as a -167 favorite.
That number’s much higher than my performance betting model, as I have the Padres no more than a -138 favorite. Normally, that would result in some value with the road underdog, but I can’t go back to the well with Nola after he burned me in his last outing.
Thus, I’m less likely to get involved in this contest with the current price above my threshold.
I can only look to back the Padres on a live line if they fall behind early or if this line drops to around -140 before the first pitch. If you’re inclined to get involved, FanDuel has the best price on the board at -154 odds.
Pick: Lean Padres ML (-154)
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Author: Michael Arinze