The bottom of the NL West wages war on Friday night, as the rival San Francisco Giants enter Petco Park to start a fight with the San Diego Padres. Friday night’s clash starts off a three-game series that extends through the weekend and could play a hand in who finishes the season in last place in the division.
That’s where the Giants reside at the moment with a sorry 34-56 record, while a four-game skid entering the All-Star break didn’t do them any favors. The Padres aren’t in a much better spot, but they at least have some positive momentum going their way as winners of 6 of their last 10 contests. They’ll try to make it 7 of 11 as they welcome their rivals into town for an interesting showdown tonight:
San Francisco Giants (-118) @ San Diego Padres (-102) Total: 8
Johnny Cueto (6-7, 4.51 ERA) vs. Clayton Richard (5-8, 4.66 ERA)
The Giants enter tonight’s tilt as the understandable favorites, largely because of the imposing Johnny Cueto toeing the rubber. That’s partially accurate and half hilarious, as Cueto boasts loads of upside in this park with this matchup, but otherwise has not been enjoying a great 2017 campaign. Cueto’s recent form is even in question, as the 31-year old righty got blasted in his last start, giving up 6 runs at home to the Miami Marlins.
Due to the Giants not being overly imposing on offense and Cueto’s recent struggles, I’d like more value than what we’re getting in the Money Line. That has me looking at the Run Line, which surprisingly hands the Giants some tremendous value at +140 (-1.5). The big question, of course, is should we jump on it?
I’m not seeing much reason not to. Both of these teams struggle to consistently put runs on the board, the Padres strikeout a ton and Petco Park tends to be a friendly spot for even the most average of hurlers. Cueto still has the K upside to be a monster, while he also took care of business in the only start against San Diego this year (5 hits, 2 runs in 7 innings). I think he could be even better tonight, as he should be in for a nice bounce-back effort and should be fresh after a long break.
The Padres are not a threatening matchup for Cueto. They have some power, but they only rank 19th in home runs against right-handed pitching and are among the least efficient offenses in MLB. San Diego actually ranks dead last in connecting versus righties in 2017 and also has the 3rd most Ks against right-handed pitching on the year.
The only thing fueling a Padres pick is Clayton Richard, as the southpaw can induce a lot of soft contact and easily has the splits advantage at home against an equally challenged Giants lineup. Richard is coming off some nice one-run ball action in his last start and gets a San Francisco offense that ranks just 21st in homers against southpaws, as well as 18th in batting average.
None of that looks good for the Giants – especially on the road where they’re a paltry 17-32 – but we shouldn’t ignore Richard’s oddly shaky performances at home (4-4, 5.40 ERA), nor the fact that as shaky as the Giants can be offensively, they are pretty stingy in the strikeout department. It doesn’t help that Richard didn’t exactly torch them when he faced them earlier this year, giving up 6 runs across two starts (4.76 ERA).
This is usually a toss-up game. Both offenses stink, the park is helpful to both sides and it’s a rivalry game. But only one side has Johnny Cueto and serious K upside and that’s where the value lies. I like the Giants straight up, but if we’re rolling with that bat, why not aim a little higher and target this gaudy Run Line?