The Pittsburgh Pirates are headed to San Diego today for game one of a four-game series with the Padres Thursday. The Pirates are licking their wounds after getting beaten down yesterday by the Arizona Diamondbacks, 11-1. The Pirates lost two out of three in the series against Arizona. The series loss comes after Pittsburgh had started out the month by winning seven of their first ten games.
The Pirates will look to get back on track tonight in San Diego against a Padres team that has lost four out of their last five games. The Padres are coming off of a two-game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers and are hoping they can keep their record above .500 with a win tonight.
Starting tonight for the Pirates is Trevor Williams (2-1 3.40 ERA), and for the Padres it is Eric Lauer (2-4 5.75 ERA). The game total over-under is set at seven and a half runs. The Padres are -128 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM PST from PETCO Park in San Diego.
This is a fun matchup between two teams that nobody expected much out of this year, that are still hanging in there. Both teams are playing in tough divisions, but are managing to find limited success, with both teams having winning records entering play today. My gut tells me that neither of these teams will emerge as true contenders in the National League, but right now they have both proven tough to beat.
The Pirates are in an especially tough spot as they play in the National League Central, my pick for the best division in all of baseball. The Central currently has four teams with winning records and is being paced up top by the Cubs and Brewers. The Pirates are hoping to take advantage of a struggling Padres team that will be without their superstar prospect Fernando Tatis Jr again today, as the young phenom is still sidelined with a hamstring injury.
The Pirates will send Trevor Williams to the mound to try and get the job done tonight in game one. Williams had a great start to the season as through his first four starts, he was 1-0 with a 2.59 ERA, and the Pirates won all four of his starts. Williams hit a little bit of a road bump as he allowed nine earned runs over the course of two consecutive starts, that saw his ERA swell to 3.74.
But Williams looked great again in his last start as he threw seven innings of one-run ball against the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pirates picked up the win. Williams has done a fantastic job of keeping the ball in the ballpark this season as he has allowed just three home runs in over fifty innings of work. He will need to continue that success tonight if he wants to slow down a Padres that surprisingly has a lot of pop.
This Padres offense doesn’t score many runs. They are just 23rd in the majors in runs scored, and 27th in on-base percentage. But the one thing they can do is hit the long ball. The Padres have hit sixty-two home runs so far this season, and that is good for seventh in the majors. They are going to need to find a way to make hard contact tonight if they want to score runs against Williams.
Eric Lauer has mostly pitched well this season but has really struggled with his consistency. He got absolutely hammered in his last start that saw him give up eight runs, all earned, against the Colorado Rockies in just three innings. He also had rough outings against the Giants where he gave up five runs in six innings and against the Diamondbacks where he gave up four runs in five innings of work. Besides those bad starts, he has pitched fairly well, but it is very hard to know just what kind of effort he is going to give on a given night.
This number surprises me. To me, these teams are very even. Their records are nearly identical, and both are coming off bad series where they played poorly. When you look at the starting pitching matchup, Williams certainly seems to be the safer bet. He has the higher upside, Lauer rarely makes it out of the fifth inning even when he is pitching well and hasn’t shown the propensity to blow up like Lauer has this year. I guess since the Padres are at home, they are getting all the love?
But when you look at the home and road splits for both teams, the Padres have actually been better this season away from PETCO Park, and the Pirates have been better on the road than they have been at home. I’m not buying the home field advantage as being enough to move the needle towards the Padres like this. So, to see the Padres as fairly big favorites leaves me scratching my head.
This is about as even of a game as you will ever find, and in spots like this where I can flip a coin and pick up dog money, I am going to take it every time. Are the Pirates definitive favorites in this one? Of course, they aren’t. But if I can back them getting dog money in a game they absolutely can win; I am not going to pass up on it. Give me the Pittsburgh Pirates as road underdogs tonight in game one in San Diego at +118!