The Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres are realistically fighting for second in the National League West division, and in a 60-game season, every contest looms large.
After San Diego surged late to take the opener 7-2, it's key for the D-backs to recover in short order to avoid an 0-2 start that seems more daunting with such a shortened 2020 schedule.
Check out abe Insights' betting preview below, where we crunch the numbers, provide you with the best odds available and offer incisive analysis of the prospective wagers.
Date: Saturday, July 25
Time: 9:15 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Implied Probabilities: Diamondbacks 45%; Padres 56%
Spread: ARI +1.5 (-175); SD -1.5 (+160)
Moneyline: ARI +120; SD -127
In the prior calendar year, the Padres made some serious moves, bringing superstar Manny Machado aboard last February and swinging trades for outfielders Trent Grisham and Tommy Pham more recently.
The Diamondbacks made some additions of their own this offseason, notably adding All-Star Starling Marte and landing Kole Calhoun in free agency. After newly acquired ace Madison Bumgarner started Opening Day, Arizona will trot out another lefty in Robbie Ray to face Dinelson Lamet.
26.3 vs. 21.5: The Padres logged the second-highest strikeout percentage in the majors last season, whereas the D-backs were more disciplined at the dish, registering the eighth-lowest mark in that category.
4.34 vs. 4.04: These stats highlight the command problems both starting pitchers have. That first number is Ray's walks per nine innings yielded in 2019, which was second-highest in all of baseball. Lamet isn't much better across 35 career starts.
74.3 vs. 69.6: Although San Diego's left-on-base percentage allowed by relievers this past year ranked fourth-worst, its trade for Emilio Pagan and open-market signing of Drew Pomeranz should lead to significant improvement. The D-backs ranked 11th in this area and added depth in December with veteran Junior Guerra.
Jayce Tingler is the Padres new manager, and so far, so good for the 39-year-old skipper. Their last younger hire for the spot, Andy Green, didn't exactly pan out, but San Diego is really building a strong team to support the new coach.
On Friday, Padres slugger Eric Hosmer hit two bases-clearing doubles in as many innings to tilt the ultimately lopsided affair in the hosts' favor. With Hosmer, Machado, Pham and a young phenom at shortstop in Fernando Tatis Jr., this club is pretty loaded at the top.
If Ray struggles to find the strike zone, it could be a long night for the road team. There's more reason to have faith in Lamet, a supreme talent whose MLB beginnings have suffered due to the need for Tommy John surgery. Lamet's fastball has more juice than Ray's, and the former hurler even has two sliders, as FanGraphs points out.
Experience is only going to help Lamet improve. Given his natural ability, unique two-slider arsenal and speedy heater, it'll be fascinating to see how he fares Saturday and beyond.
But Arizona won't let him off easy. Ketel Marte is a devastating leadoff hitter who logged a cool 32 home runs last year. D-backs cleanup batsman Eduardo Escobar drove in 118 runs in 2019 to go with 35 dingers, and Starling Marte's presence only makes the lineup more dynamic.
According to TeamRankings.com, San Diego was only 26-23 as home favorites in the previous season, and Arizona covered the spread 62.5% of the time as a road underdog. Given the significant roster changes on each club, though, this data isn't quite as useful.
Bettors are therefore likely to err on the side of recency bias, which should drive more action on the plus-money on the Padres' -1.5 run line and their solid -127 moneyline.
The aforementioned command issues for both probable pitchers may come into play, but stout bullpens on both sides should cause bets to trend toward the Under 8.5.
Note: Odds current as of 12:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 25.
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