The San Diego Padres' three-game winning streak has helped them ascend into an NL Wild Card spot ahead of Thursday's interleague series finale against the Texas Rangers.
Unfortunately for the visitors, they're trending in the wrong direction and could fade from the AL postseason field if they can't snap a skid of four consecutive losses. A win would go a long way to boost Texas' outlook, as the Rangers would avert a four-game sweep.
In abe Insights' preview, you'll find statistics to bolster your knowledge before betting, along with analysis of how wagers on the primary lines should trend, and the best odds available upon publication.
Date: Thursday, August 20
Time: 8:10 p.m. ET
TV: FOX Sports Southwest; FOX Sports San Diego
Implied Probabilities: Rangers 38%; Padres 64%
Spread: TEX +1.5 (-124); SD -1.5 (+110)
Moneyline: TEX +165; SD -177
Padres starter Dinelson Lamet has been electric on the hill this year, with a 2-1 record and 1.59 ERA in five starts. Per FanGraphs, Lamet has relied on a dynamic slider on more than half his pitches, and his fastball is averaging 97.5 mph. Good luck dealing with that combo.
Kyle Gibson hasn't been as good for Texas (1-2, 3.74 ERA), yet he is coming off a strong outing. In the higher altitude of Coors Field, he pitched 6.1 innings and gave up only two runs in the Rangers' 6-4 victory over the Rockies last weekend.
26 vs. 22: San Diego and Texas rank second and third respectively in stolen bases. That should add to the entertainment value of Thursday's matchup, and whichever side swipes more bags could well lead to the manufactured run or two that makes the difference.
.228 vs. .136: What's so impressive about the Padres' lineup is how they combine their elite speed on the base paths with immense pop. They're second only to the Yankees in isolated power, whereas the Rangers are far more small-ball reliant, ranking 27th.
5.26 vs. 5.08: Pitching has been a sore spot for Texas for many years, and its relievers have baseball's fourth-worst Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) total in 2020. However, the Padres' bullpen is also struggling, currently placing 24th in MLB.
If you're a casual baseball fan and aren't yet fully familiar with San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., now is the time to get on the bandwagon. Tatis has the makings of being the sport's next true superstar, and may already be there at age 21.
In leading MLB in homers, runs, RBI and stolen bases entering Thursday's action — which are all good from an individual accomplishment standpoint — Tatis is helping the rest of his teammates due to how dangerous he is at the dish. Tatis' walk on Wednesday night teed up slugger Manny Machado for a walk-off grand slam and a 6-3 win in 10 innings.
Yep, the Rangers kept the Padres in check most of the night, rallied in the ninth with a tying home run from Joey Gallo and got a run on the board in the top of the 10th. It didn't matter. They scrapped all that way only to see Machado clear the bases with one decisive swing. Now San Diego is on the brink of sweeping the home-and-home set.
That's not even to mention how Tatis has trolled the Rangers in Arlington. He allegedly missed a "take" sign and swung at a 3-0 pitch on Monday. The ball sailed over the fence for a grand slam, making the score 14-3 in the eighth inning. Tatis then stole third base on Tuesday with a 6-0 lead. You know what? Bring it. Add some spice to America's pastime.
Speaking of heat and stylish swagger, should Lamet sport his best stuff tonight, Texas is going to really have its work cut out to remain within striking distance in this one. While the Padres' bullpen is always liable to blow a late lead, the home team has more bats to rally with, and the Rangers' relievers are of dubious caliber themselves.
The Rangers' lack of offensive firepower often leads oddsmakers to underestimate their run totals, which explains why TeamRankings.com has Texas with the sixth-highest Over rate. With Tatis, Machado and other big hitters in the Padres' order look, for bettors to overwhelmingly err on the side of a high-scoring showdown.
When it comes to the spread and moneyline, well, San Diego is clearly going to be the trendy pick. A superior starter on the mound and better bats are usually a formula for any favorite to cover and win outright, although hedging with the Rangers moneyline is a logical strategy if you don't want to double down on the hosts.
Note: Odds current as of 11:35 a.m. ET on Thursday, August 20.
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