This is a brand-name matchup. The San Diego Padres and New York Mets are in huge markets and have had the eyes of the nation on them all season.
San Diego has been embroiled in all sorts of controversy surrounding its superstar shortstop, only to go out and make the biggest trades at the deadline. This is a young and exciting team.
Meanwhile, the Mets led the NL East for 175 of the 182 regular-season days only to cough up the lead in the final stretch. Instead of a first-round bye and hosting an NLDS series, the Mets find themselves in a shootout Wildcard series with a talented Padres team.
All because the Mets got swept at home to their division rival with a week left in the season.
Can the Mets bounce back and take care of business with Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom at the top of the rotation? Or will the upstart Padres make noise in New York this weekend?
Let’s dive into the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for Game 1 of this NL Wildcard series.
San Diego Padres vs New York Mets Odds
The smart money and sharp money are on the over. The line has also come down for the Padres, although that could be because Scherzer started Game 1 instead of deGrom.
The total is only 6, slightly juiced to the over. A contrarian play on the over is generally the sharp play.
But is it the right play?
San Diego Padres Starting Lineup
LF J. Profar S
RF J. Soto L
3B M. Machado R
DH J. Bell S
2B J. Cronenworth L
1B B. Drury R
SS H. Kim R
C A. Nola R
CF J. Azocar R
San Diego Padres vs Max Scherzer
Scherzer is a force of nature. He’s still striking out close to 11 batters per nine and his walk rate is at a career low. He’s put together a 2.29 ERA of 145 innings this season, and his stuff hasn’t dropped off an inch.
His BABIP is only .276 and his strand rate is above 80%, which should indicate negative regression. But the amazing thing about Scherzer is that those numbers never change. He’s elite in high-leverage situations and rarely makes mistakes.
Max Scherzer is his first season with the Mets:
145.1 IP, 108 H, 24 BB, 173 K, 2.29 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 4.4 fWAR, 5.3 bWAR
— Michael Mayer (@michaelmayer22) October 6, 2022
Scherzer mainly attacks with a fastball-slider combo, two pitches that have accumulated a whopping -31 Run Value this season. Scherzer has also held opposing batters to a batting average under .200 combined on both pitches.
If you want to crack Scherer, it’ll have to be on the changeup and cutter. But good luck as he only throws the two pitches 22.2% of the time.
The Padres will not challenge Scherzer by smashing him. However, this lineup might be able to compete with Scherzer’s elite control of the strike zone. The Padres seldom chase and finished with the fifth-highest contact rate this season. They also walked less than 10% of the time and struck out less than 20% of the time.
San Diego’s additions of Juan Soto, Josh Bell, and Brandon Drury should only improve their power numbers while keeping their plate discipline statistics high. San Diego finished bottom 10 in SLG, ISO, and home runs this season. San Diego desperately needs power increases to create an elite lineup.
Luckily, those three hitters above have yet to break out, so the sky is the limit.
New York Mets Starting Lineup
CF B. Nimmo L
SS F. Lindor S
2B J. McNeil L
1B P. Alonso R
3B E. Escobar S
DH D. Vogelbach L
LF M. Canha R
RF T. Naquin L
C T. Nido R
New York Mets vs Yu Darvish
Darvish has been as good as ever. Outside of the 2020 COVID-shortened season where he posted a 2.01 ERA, Darvish hasn’t posted an ERA this low since 2014.
Darvish’s strikeouts are down and his BABIP is severely low. However, his walks are also down and he’s managed to keep his xFIP in the 3.50 range – right around where Scherzer’s is. His 4.2 fWAR is as good as any NL pitcher, and so is his .95 WHIP.
Darvish has six different pitches he can go to, and that’s made him elite at messing with timing. It’s especially impressive how he never misses his spots.
The Mets should be scared considering how Darvish performed last time in New York.
Yu Darvish in his last outing vs the Mets
2.87 xFIP | 0.97 FIP
0.71 WHIP pic.twitter.com/nYXS2LBu9Y
— Danny (@TatisMVPszn) October 5, 2022
The Mets will do what they do. They don’t hit the ball hard but they make more contact than any team in baseball. The Mets have led the league in wRC+ over the past month (132) mostly by posting an OBP 14 points better than the next-best team.
The Mets won’t strike out and they will walk a lot. But they have Alonso for power (40 home runs) and seven of their regular nine-man lineup have an OPS+ above 120. This is a scary lineup.
San Diego Padres vs New York Mets Pick & Prediction
My picks: Over 6 (-115) at PointsBet
Both lineups have slight advantages against the other starting pitcher. Both Scherzer and Darvish rely on many strikeouts and few walks. But both lineups rely on plate discipline and high contact rates.
If a few guys get on base and some slapped balls go the offense’s way – remember both pitchers are due for some slight negative BABIP regression – each team could pick up a few runs.
With a total of 6, you don’t need much to get over. And don’t forget that, in a Wildcard series, both managers are begging to pull the starters and put in slightly more vulnerable bullpens.