Guess who’s back? Less than two weeks after he played his last game with the Nationals, Juan Soto will once again take the field at Nationals Park on Friday night. Soto and the rest of the Padres’ offense caught fire in their last two games, posting 20 total runs, and who better to keep that momentum going than the pitching of the 37-76 Nationals?
Let’s take a look at starting lineups, betting odds, and predictions for Friday’s matchup.
San Diego Padres vs. Washington Nationals Betting Odds
The Padres are huge favorites at -245 on the moneyline, with the over/under set at 9 runs. Just about any team would be favored against the Nationals right now, but the Padres’ talent gives them a massive advantage.
Don’t be scared off by San Diego’s recent 5-game losing streak. They took 4 out of 5 before being swept by the Dodgers and just took 2 of 3 against the Giants. As much as they might struggle against great teams, the Padres overmatch teams like the Nationals – Washington starter Cory Abbott isn’t likely to slow them down.
San Diego Padres Starting Lineup
LF J. Profar S
RF J. Soto L
3B M. Machado R
1B J. Bell S
DH B. Drury R
2B J. Cronenworth L
SS H. Kim R
CF T. Grisham L
C J. Alfaro R
San Diego Padres vs. Cory Abbott
The Nationals are rebuilding, but Cory Abbott isn’t a young prospect they’re taking a look at. Abbott has been with three organizations this season, joining the Nats in May via waiver claim. He’s thrown 12.2 innings in 2022, with a 5.68 ERA and 8.88 FIP to go along with a 1.50 WHIP. The sample size is small, but Abbott struggled in the Cubs’ system last year and has a 4.98 ERA over 34.1 minor-league innings this season.
A stunningly good start against the Mets last week was erased by an ugly one on Sunday, when he surrendered 7 runs in just 3.2 innings. Odds are Abbott will be giving the Nationals more of the latter down the stretch.
The Padres gained attention for 26 consecutive scoreless innings earlier this week, only to explode for 20 runs over their last two games against the Giants. It’s just tough to keep a lineup with Manny Machado and Juan Soto – plus Josh Bell and plenty of other established bats – down for long. \
Abbott has struggled with control at both levels this season. Unfortunately for him, nobody walks more than Soto. Soto is hitting .357 with a 1.078 OPS with the Padres. He and Bell have a combined 12 walks in 8 games since the trade. Manny Machado also has an OPS north of 1.000 since the deal, no doubt helped by the added protection in the lineup. Abbott has a high strikeout rate in his minor-league career, so high-strikeout bats like Trent Grisham and (surprisingly) Jake Cronenworth may have a tougher time.
Washington Nationals Starting Lineup
CF V. Robles R
SS L. Garcia L
1B L. Voit R
DH N. Cruz R
LF Y. Hernandez L
C K. Ruiz S
RF L. Thomas R
2B C. Hernandez S
3B I. Vargas S
Washington Nationals vs. Mike Clevinger
Mike Clevinger has quickly turned into one of the Padres’ most important arms in his return from Tommy John Surgery, especially given the struggles of Sean Manaea. Clevinger has a 3.60 ERA across 65 innings this season, with a 3.98 FIP, 1.12 WHIP, and 62 strikeouts. He struggled against the Dodgers last time out, but who hasn’t? All signs looked positive for Clevinger before that outing, and the Nationals will give him the perfect opportunity to get back on track.
Clevinger’s strikeout rate isn’t what it was pre-surgery, but he’s walking fewer batters than ever. Bad teams beat you when you let them beat you – as long as Clevinger maintains the control he’s shown this season, he won’t give the Nationals any extra advantage.
Somehow the Nationals are hitting .264 as a team in August, and they’re already 5 home runs away from matching their July total. That doesn’t seem sustainable, but it does tell you not to rule out a few runs (or the over). Luke Voit has hit well since joining the Nats and might know Clevinger better than others after a few months as his teammate. Joey Meneses and Keibert Ruiz both have 3 home runs since the Soto trade. Is a Ruiz breakout finally happening? Ultimately, this offense probably doesn’t have enough pieces to keep up with the Padres, but this group hasn’t quit even as everyone else has quit on them.
San Diego Padres vs. Washington Nationals Picks & Prediction
My pick: Over 9 Runs (-104)
The Padres are too talented to find any value in the Nationals this time around. I do think the Friars’ offensive breakout in the series win over the Giants is a sign of what’s to come. Pitchers can’t pitch around all of the big bats in the lineup, and it’s no surprise Soto and Machado have done the most damage since the blockbuster deal. Look for Soto and Bell to find some extra motivation in their return to D.C., undoubtedly putting runs on the board against Abbott along with the rest of the crew. I like what I’ve seen from Clevinger of late, but 2 or 3 runs is all the Nationals – very doable – might be all that’s needed to push this one over 9 runs.