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Padres vs. Cardinals Odds, Preview, Prediction: Will the Cardinals Win Their Sixth Straight Game? (Friday, September 17)

Padres vs. Cardinals Odds, Preview, Prediction: Will the Cardinals Win Their Sixth Straight Game? (Friday, September 17) article feature image

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images. Pictured: Tommy Edman

Padres vs. Cardinals Odds

Padres Odds+115
Cardinals Odds-135
TimeFriday, 7:15 p.m. ET
Odds as of Friday and via PointsBet IL. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

There's no better series to follow this weekend in Major League Baseball than the Cardinals hosting the Padres. A five-game win streak by St. Louis has led to a half-game lead over San Diego in the wild card race.

The Cardinals are as high as a -140 favorite on Friday night despite starting a pitcher who's making just his seventh start this season due to injuries. That pitcher, of course, is Miles Mikolas, and Vince Velasquez, who was just released three days ago from the Phillies, will oppose him for the Padres.

Both pitchers are a liability coming in this game, so that suggests that the odds should be much closer than what we see in the market.

Let's dig a bit deeper into this matchup to see which side holds the value in the series opener.

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San Diego Padres

Velasquez didn't do much to distinguish himself as a member of the Phillies this season. In 17 starts, he was 3-6 with a 5.95 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP. However, his 4.95 xERA and 5.04 xFIP are almost a run lower than his ERA, suggesting some positive regression.

What has held him back is his lack of command, given his 4.96 BB/9 ratio. He's also struggled to keep the ball inside the park, evidenced by his 1.87 HR/9 ratio. The walks allowed, combined with a high slugging percentage against him, help paint a bleak picture of Velasquez as a quality pitcher.

Batters have decided to be more patient when facing him at the plate. They're swinging at fewer of his pitches (45.8%) than at any other time in his career. That tells me they're hunting for their pitch and their pitch only. They're also more than willing to take the free pass to first base if it doesn't come.

That pitch selectiveness has led to a barrel rate of 10.6%, the highest against Velasquez in his career. 10 of his home runs allowed this season were with the bases empty, and the other 10 occurred with at least a runner on base.

However, Velasquez has done well to limit opponents to a .244 batting average. And while you might think that he's getting crushed with runners on base, hitters haven't produced a higher average in those situational spots.

Batters are hitting .238 against him with a runner on first base, and that number decreases to .213 when they're in scoring position. Those numbers would probably be even worse if he didn't strike out 9.37 batters per nine innings. So perhaps a glimmer of hope remains for Velasquez.

He'll face a Cardinals lineup that has 69 at-bats against him with a .261/.354/.522 line. While those numbers aren't necessarily great by any stretch, let's reserve judgment until we see how Mikolas has fared against this Padres lineup.

St. Louis Cardinals

A shoulder injury in spring training followed by forearm tightness resulted in two lengthy spells on the injury list for Mikolas. He's yet to win a decision in his six starts as he's 0-2 with a 5.47 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. His 5.23 xERA and 5.10 xFIP do point to a slight improvement, but he still trails Velasquez by almost a half-run in terms of expected positive regression.

While his 2.73 BB/9 and 1.37 HR/9 ratios provide an edge over Velasquez, he's only striking out 6.15 batters per nine innings. That's an insufficient number for a pitcher who doesn't induce a ton of ground balls (1.16 GB/FB).

What's surprising about Mikolas is that he's pitching with some velocity as his four-seamer is averaging 93.3 mph. Yet, his Called Plus Swinging Strike (CSW) rate of 25% might be the lowest I've seen of any starting pitcher this season. He's often pitching in and around the strike zone since he's walking fewer than three batters per nine innings.

And when he throws strikes, opposing hitters have a 90.5% contact rate. Again, it's not like he's inducing ground ball with this high contact rate either. He's getting barreled up 9.1% of the time, which is a career-high for him.

This season, opposing hitters are batting .274 against him, which is .30 points higher than the average against Velasquez. Hitters also have had a .453 xSLG vs. Mikolas compared to a .428 xSLG against Velasquez. Mikolas's numbers are even worse against this current crop of Padres hitters.

In 63 at-bats, they have a .381/.400/.651 line against Mikolas. That amounts to a 1.051 OPS and a .270 ISO compared to Velasquez, who has a .876 OPS and .261 ISO vs. the Cardinals.

Thus, if this pitching matchup is about picking the lesser of two evils, then at worst, we probably should be looking at more of a coinflip in terms of the available odds on the board.

Padres-Cardinals Pick

I'm not in a rush to back either of these starting pitchers, and I'm certainly not going to lay -140 with Mikolas.

Due to the significance of this game, I suspect both teams will waste little time going to their bullpens. That's where San Diego has the advantage with its 3.37 bullpen ERA, which puts it fourth in the league. In contrast, the St. Louis bullpen is ranked 16th with a 4.08 ERA.

The Cardinals are one of the best regular-season teams in our BetLabs database at +19.92 units.

 However, when they're on a five-game winning streak, they're 15 games under .500 with a loss of -17.37 units.

 Either way, you're picking more than just a dog in this spot. You're choosing a dog with fleas. Or rather, as Gordon Gekko put it, "A dog with dIfferent fleas." As a result, I still have some trepidation backing Velasquez, so this remains just a lean for me at the current odds of +115.

Lean: Padres (+115)

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