The Cleveland Guardians enter this game with a narrow lead in the AL Central. It’s been a rather magical season for Cleveland baseball, and the rebrand ending in a division title would be a fitting ending.
They’ll try and power through the San Diego Padres in Southern California, which shouldn’t be an easy task following the Friars’ trade-deadline haul. Although they’ve played just .500 ball since acquiring Juan Soto, Josh Bell, and Josh Hader.
So, can the Padres sneak out an interleague series win against a supposedly inferior opponent? Or will the Guardians continue to roll?
Let’s dive into the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for this Wednesday’s matchup.
Cleveland Guardians vs San Diego Padres Odds
Blake Snell is the great mystery of this baseball season. He’s been so inconsistent, regularly allowing six runs in a start or pitching six shutout innings. Overall, his ERA has evened out to 3.77.
That’s also the ERA of his pitching opponent today, Cal Quantrill. This makes me wonder why the Guardians are such big underdogs.
The total seems slightly low at 7.5, as well. But, let’s dive a bit deeper to try and find some more value in this game.
Cleveland Guardians Starting Lineup
LF S. Kwan L
SS A. Rosario R
3B J. Ramirez S
DH J. Naylor L
2B A. Gimenez L
RF O. Gonzalez R
1B O. Miller R
C A. Hedges R
CF M. Straw R
Cleveland Guardians vs Blake Snell
After a brutal start to the season, Snell has put together an impressive string of starts. He’s allowed one run or less in seven of his last nine appearances, with a five-run performance at Coors being one of them.
He’s just seeing all the regression he’s been due for. Despite that brutal beginning stretch, Snell has an xERA of just 3.16. His FIP is a whopping 2.77 and his xFIP is 3.33. Snell is still a great pitcher and is primed to be an impact pitcher down the stretch.
The Padres need it, too, considering they’re just 1.5 games ahead of Milwaukee for the third Wildcard spot.
It’s because Snell continues to strike out batters at an insane clip. His 12.05 K/9 would be the first time he’s eclipsed 12 since 2018 and only the second time in his career. Granted, injury has meant this sample size is lower, but this is an impressive Baseball Savant page.
Image credit: Baseball Savant
The Guardians might struggle today. They have a quality young pitching staff with a top-tier bullpen, but this lineup is smoke and mirrors outside of Jose Ramirez. They are among the bottom tier of teams in almost every important batted-ball statistic.
However, they do have solid plate discipline. That’s allowed guys like Josh Naylor, Andres Gimenez, and Steven Kwam to put up monster OPS+ numbers. The Guardians don’t strike out, walk a solid amount, and tend to put the ball in play. It works for the Mets, and Cleveland might win a division title with the same game plan.
San Diego Padres Starting Lineup
LF J. Profar S
2B J. Cronenworth L
3B M. Machado R
DH B. Drury R
1B J. Bell S
RF W. Myers R
CF T. Grisham L
SS H. Kim R
C A. Nola R
San Diego Padres vs Cal Quantrill
I have always been impressed with the young Quantrill. He isn’t having the same type of breakout year he had in 2021, but he’s dealt with the regression while keeping his batted-ball statistics decent.
He’s strictly a pitch-to-contact guy, however, with his strikeouts now dipping below six per nine innings. He still gets guys to chase at a high rate (78th percentile) but rarely forces Whiffs (seventh percentile).
The Padres will take advantage of that, especially with strike-zone-control wizard Soto in the fold. But can they produce the necessary power to overwhelm Quantrill?
The recent results say yes. The Padres have posted the ninth-highest ISO (.155) and the fifth-highest wRC+ (120) over the last two weeks. Manny Machado continues his MVP campaign, having slashed .400/.455/.740 during the stretch.
Cleveland Guardians vs San Diego Padres Pick & Prediction
My picks: Cleveland Guardians ML (+145 at PointsBet Sportsbook)
Betting average American League teams against “elite” National League teams tend to be a profitable betting strategy. And given the Guardians have won three of the last five matchups with the Padres, I’m ready to ride that rollercoaster again.
I think Snell might be slightly overvalued here, even given his hot streak lately. Plus, I always like betting on the reliable Quantrill and a Cleveland bullpen that has built up more goodwill than the San Diego one has.
I’ll take the Guardians at anything better than about +140.