The MLB postseason here and I couldn’t be happier.
Wednesday, in particular, is a huge day in the world of baseball with a whopping eight games taking place throughout the afternoon into the evening in what is an unprecedented day in Major League Baseball during the most unprecedented season in league history.
With that in mind, let’s zero in on this Cardinals vs. Padres Game 1 MLB Pick and see if we can get our postseason started on the right note!
Cardinals vs. Padres Betting Odds
- Cardinals (+146)
- Padres (-158)
- Cardinals +1.5 (-142)
- Padres -1.5 (+122)
- Over 8.5 (-120)
- Under 8.5 (+100)
Cardinals vs. Padres Game 1 MLB Pick Breakdown
The Cardinals will send 32-year-old rookie left-hander Kwang Hyun Kim to the mound as he looks to work on a fantastic first tour of duty in North American after he spent 12 years in the Korean Baseball Organization.
Kim largely dominated overseas, and he came to the Cardinals and posted a 1.62 ERA across seven starts, eight appearances and 39 innings on the season.
That said, it would appear that Kim was fortunate to earn such a stout ERA figure. While his peripherals aren’t poor, his 3.88 FIP, 4.52 xFIP and 5.00 SIERA are all significantly above his ERA mark and certainly point to some regression.
He didn’t strike out many in Korea before coming over to the majors, and he posted just 5.54 strikeouts per nine innings this season. He did, however, exhibit nice command with a 2.77 BB/9 and kept the ball in the yard a quality 0.69 HR/9 clip thanks in part to a 50% ground-ball rate combined with just 31.4% hard contact allowed.
Kim allowed one earned run or less in six of his seven starts this season and hurled five innings of one-run ball with three strikeouts against the Brewers in his final tune-up start of the regular season.
It was announced just minutes ago that the Padres will be without both Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger for this NL Wild Card series, so it’s imperative that the Padres get a quality outing from right-hander Chris Paddack in this Game 1.
Paddack regressed some from his Rookie of the Year-caliber season in 2019 as he posted a 4.73 ERA/5.02 FIP on the season. That said, I’m wondering if there’s positive regression due for however many postseason starts he has in store in 2020.
Paddack also worked to a 3.77 xFIP and 3.91 SIERA while his walk rate remained elite at just 1.83 HR/9. Despite allowing just 32.9% fly-balls and seeing his hard hit rate dip from 42.1% last season to 37.6% this year, he allowed home runs on a whopping 25% of his fly balls allowed, resulting in a huge 2.14 HR/9 rate on the season. Over a full 162 games, those are numbers that would certainly even out, and whether there is enough starts for that to take place in these playoffs remains to be seen.
Paddack was indeed better at home inside the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park in San Diego where he posted a 4.11 ERA and 3.39 xFIP, but home runs remained an issue with a 2.05 HR/9 clip art home as well.
Nonetheless, his numbers are home are superior pretty much across the board.
He’s not entering this one on a high note, however, as he allowed five earned runs in 3.2 innings in his final regular-season start in San Francisco against the Giants.
While the Cardinals had some success against lefties this season, they have struggled against righties and have hit for very little power versus righties as well.
Against righties this season, the Cardinals tied for 23rd with .305 wOBA while their .131 ISO slipped all the way down to 29th, ahead of only the Miami Marlins.
Making matters worse, the Cardinals ranked 25th with a .293 wOBA on the road this season while their .123 ISO away from Busch Stadium was the worst mark in baseball. Side note: the high-octane Yankees hit for the second-worst ISO on the road this season at .130. Baseball, man.
Finally, despite having the likes of Kolten Wong, Tommy Edman, Paul DeJong and Dylan Carlson on the roster – all players with some speed – the Cardinals ranked 27th with just 18 steals this season, and while we’re dealing with a slightly smaller sample here than the remainder of the league, they still haven’t created much on the basepaths.
It sure doesn’t look like an optimal situation for this Cardinals offense in this one.
Heading into the season, we didn’t know what kind of offense the Padres would bring to the table. We knew Fernando Tatis was electric and Manny Machado could bounce back from a down 2019 season, but whether the remainder of the cast would be able to support their superstars at the plate. We got our answer pretty quick.
The Padres came out of the gates hot and raked for much of the season. That said, their offense was superior versus right-handed pitching, although they still weren’t poor against righties, either.
The Padres finished fifth with a .347 wOBA on the season against righties, but slipped to a share of 11th with a .327 wOBA versus righties. Not a terrible difference, but something worth noting as they gear up for the lefty Kim in this one.
That said, despite playing in a pitcher’s park, the Padres ranked sixth with a .355 wOBA on the season at home while their .237 ISO at home checked in at third.
In layman’s terms, the Padres ranked fourth with 54 home runs at home this season and eighth with 52 doubles.
Despite superior numbers versus righties, the Padres have been a major threat on the regular at home this season.
If you’ve read my picks that feature the Cardinals this season, you would know that I have spoken of the regression they should be in for.
The Cardinals ranked 10th with a 4.00 bullpen ERA on the season, however they also checked in at 17th with a 4.63 FIP and 19th with a 4.66 xFIP. It’s not eye-popping regression on the horizon, but there’s little doubt that their peripheral numbers are notably worse than their surface ERA.
After a stint on the IL the club has closer Giovanny Gallegos back for this series after he posted a 3.60 ERA in the regular season, but also a 2.06 FIP, 2.73 xFIP and 12.60 K/9. Alex Reyes, John Gant and Andrew Miller also did plenty of heavy-lifting for this group, and it always helps when your highest-volume relievers sport the best numbers in the bullpen.
It would be a battle against this Padres offense, and we’ll see if that aforementioned regression kicks in tonight.
On the flip side, the Padres finished tied for 13th with a 4.38 ERA on the season, but their peripherals are actually better in the form of a 10th-ranked 4.08 FIP and fifth-ranked 4.15 xFIP to boot.
The Padres racked up punchouts at a ninth-ranked 10.02 K/9 on the season, while their 3.53 BB/9 is a fine number relative to the other bullpens around the league.
The historic season from Kirby Yates in 2019 ended early this season, so the club went out and acquired Trevor Rosenthal from the Kansas City Royals in the midst of a resurgent campaign that’s seen him pitch to a 1.90 ERA/2.22 FIP on the season, but he’s also yet to allow an earned run in his 10 innings with the Padres.
The lucrative four-year deal handed out to left-hander Drew Pomeranz has been a winning gamble to this point as Pomeranz has worked to a 1.45 ERA/2.39 FIP in his 18.2 innings this season.
With a roughly league-average bullpen, the Padres seem to match up well with the Cardinals in that department.
Cardinals vs. Padres Game 1 MLB Pick
There’s a factor that I didn’t mention in the pitching or offense sections and that’s an 8 mph wind blow in from left field in this one. It isn’t a wind that eliminates home runs to left, but it’s a factor in keeping fly balls from travelling into the seats.
Additionally, I think Paddack and this Padres bullpen shuts down this offense here. The Cardinals have not hit righties well, especially for power, and they just haven’t hit on the road, either. It’s not a bad lineup on paper, but the Cardinals just haven’t been able to produce consistently at the plate this season.
If you factor in the Kim putting forth strong numbers – albeit well below his peripherals – combined with a big ground-ball rate, I think there’s a real chance he can hold this dangerous Padres offense at bay as well. Hard to argue with one run or less in six of seven starts.
As a result, I’m rolling with the under 8.5 in Game 1 between the Cardinals and Padres tonight from San Diego.