Padres vs. Astros Odds, Preview, Prediction: There’s Value in Fading Houston’s Pitching (Friday, May 28)

Padres vs. Astros Odds, Preview, Prediction: There’s Value in Fading Houston’s Pitching (Friday, May 28) article feature image
Credit:

Brandon Wade/Getty Images. Pictured: Houston Astros pitcher Framber Valdez #59.

  • The San Diego Padres and Houston Astros begin their regular-season series on Friday, with each club in the midst of its own identity crisis.
  • The Padres are still working Fernando Tatis Jr., Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers back into the lineup, while the Astros are searching high and low for reliable pitching.
  • Betting on Friday's Padres vs. Astros game may come down to each team's bullpen; and as MLB analyst Kenny Ducey explains below, that matchup favors San Diego.

Padres vs. Astros Odds

Padres Odds -102
Astros Odds -116
Over/Under 8 (-115 / -105)
Time 8:10 p.m. ET
TV SportsNet SW
Odds as of Saturday morning and via FanDuel.

Two teams with World Series aspirations — but not exactly World Series form — collide in Houston when the Padres visit the Astros this weekend.

Moreover, two pitchers who have garnered early success also collide on Friday as San Diego’s Dinelson Lamet faces Houston’s Framber Valdez. Yet, despite their similar circumstances, the numbers behind each pitcher’s ERA might tell a different story.

Does one side have a clear advantage, or should we be targeting the total? Let’s examine the matchup to find the answer.

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San Diego Padres

Unexpected Teammates Catch Fire

Contrary to expectation, the Padres have arguably gotten worse since welcoming back Fernando Tatis, Jr., Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers.

Earlier this month, the Padres called up several players to fill out their roster due to a mass loss of players to the COVID-19 list. In the midst of profound roster disruption, that team full of unexpected teammates caught fire.

The Fathers became the Step-fathers, and boy did it work. San Diego won 12-of-13 games driven by contact, stolen bases and small ball. The team charged into a series in Milwaukee with a head of steam, but a four-game series split stalled that momentum.

Now, San Diego enters one of its biggest series of the season with considerably less juice than it might have had with just one more victory in its series with the Brewers. The two losses came in tight games, so perhaps it’s nitpicking. Still, the offense has slowed ever so slightly for this team.

What Should We Expect from Starting Pitcher Dinelson Lamet?

It’s difficult to figure out the Padres offense given the circumstances surrounding the club over the last few weeks. However, perhaps San Diego’s  greatest enigma is Friday’s starting pitcher: Dinelson Lamet.

A former Opening Day arm for San Diego, Lamet ramped up his workload from two to three innings in his last outing, but he’s probably still an opener at this point. His walk rate, strikeout rate and hard-hit rates have all declined from 2020. We still haven’t seen enough of Lamet to make a real judgment on him, but we can safely say that he doesn’t deserve to boast a 1.64 ERA based on his performance so far.

The good news here for Lamet and the Padres is that the bullpen has been lights out over the past two weeks. San Diego’s relievers have accumulated a great 2.90 xFIP and stellar 1.61 ERA, the latter of which ranks second in MLB during that span.

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Houston Astros

Houston took one of two games in its recent series against the defending-champion Dodgers, but the team is still trying to get the train back on the tracks. Despite the series split with Los Angeles, Houston has still dropped four of its last five games.

The Astros Bats Have Come Alive

Though this team hasn’t done a ton of winning of late, it has certainly proven more than capable in the offensive department. The Astros own a 118 wRC+ over the last two weeks and have achieved that mark despite only hitting 11 home runs.

In a similar fashion to the Padres’ scrappy group of depth pieces, the Astros have excelled on offense via contact hitting. During the last two weeks, Houston’s batters have put the ball in play on 84.5% of their swings — the best mark in MLB by a wide margin. The Astros have been one of the top teams in barrels per swing all season long, so making contact certainly bodes well for them.

Can Houston’s Hot Hitting Overcome Below-Average Pitching?

One place this team’s been sold a bit short is with its pitching staff, which won’t exactly be firing its best bullet on Friday. Framber Valdez earns the start, having played the part of average back-end starter to perfection over his career. The lefty owns decent strikeout and walk numbers but has allowed hard contact at a troubling 48.7% clip.

Another cause for concern is the bullpen, which has posted a 5.26 ERA over the last two weeks. I’m not sure the Astros have one pitcher that they can confidently trot out there at the moment. It used to be Ryne Stanek, but now he’s all over the place with his command and is having massive issues with walks. There’s nowhere to turn, and this could be a huge factor late in a close game.

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Padres-Astros Pick

Here’s my predicament: I hate both Valdez and the Astros bullpen, but San Diego’s 22nd-ranked wRC+ against left-handed pitching also concerns me. I’m also just not certain that this offense has clicked yet after getting all its key components back.

In a scenario like this one, I’m compelled to back the better bullpen. I want to take the over, but I’m terrified of what might happen when the Padres ‘pen gets cooking. San Diego is in better form at the moment and should be able to stack up hits against Valdez even without a splits advantage. I really distrust the Astros bullpen that much.

Pick: Padres ML -102

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