Game time: 8:40 p.m. ET
Venue: Petco Park, San Diego, CA
Where to watch: AT&T SportsNet-SW, Bally Sports San Diego
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Padres -120, Astros +100
BetMGM: Padres -115, Astros -105
Caesars: Padres -115, Astros +105
Season record (entering Friday)
Astros: 78-55 (1st place, AL West)
Padres: 71-63 (3rd place, NL West)
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Astros - Padres preview and analysis
Recent form (entering Friday)
Astros: 5-5 in last 10
Padres: 4-6 in last 10
We’ve reached the point of the season where all hope has gone out the window for the San Diego Padres.
That’s why Saturday’s matchup with the Houston Astros should feel like a lock at this point.
For one thing, the Astros are sending starter Framber Valdez to the mound. For all the talk of top pitching rotations in the league, we tend to leave out the Astros. Valdez would be a solid No. 2 on most contending staffs.
He’s likely to be the No. 4 pitcher come playoff time, and that’s a scary thought. Valdez has a 9-4 record and is the only Houston starter to post an ERA of under 3.00 (2.91). Not even Zack Greinke, the Astros’ ace, can say that. Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia also have 10-win seasons, but the ERA creeps toward 3.30.
It’s because of that that the Astros have a 4.5-game lead in the American League West entering Friday over the Oakland Athletics.
Now, I know that neither of these teams are a sexy pick right now. The Astros have lost three of four and just lost a series to the Seattle Mariners. Nothing is more satisfying to get out of a mini slump than face a team that has been in a slump for the better part of a month.
The Padres are 9-16 in their last 25 games entering Friday and have batted a collective .220 and their hitters have averaged 3.5 RBI per game. For a team that has as much talent as that group does in the middle of the lineup, that’s as disappointing as it comes.
If they can’t get anything going against an Astros pitching staff that has struck out 9.5 batters per game since Aug. 19, it’s going to be a long day, and even weekend, for the Padres.
It will be up to Joe Musgrove (9-8, 2.85 ERA) to quiet the Houston bats at home, but if the Padres can’t give Blake Snell run support when he’s throwing 115 pitches through eight innings, hoping it happens for the right-hander is too daunting of a demand.
There needs to be some form of consistency from the Padres in order to actually believe they can reach that second wild card spot. They have the talent to do it, but the inability to put the ball in play and score runs has been alarming. We like Houston in this matchup in what should be a solid night for Valdez.
The over is 33-30 in Astros road games this regular season.
Houston is 11-6 (+1.2 net games on the moneyline) in Valdez’s starts.
The total has split at 25-25 for the Padres in the second half of the season.
Astros: SP Zack Greinke (out)
Players to watch
Astros: Since returning from the IL, Alex Bregman has settled in nicely. He’s hit safely in all but one game entering Friday, batting .381 in that span. No homers and only RBI so far, but those will come.
Padres: The same can’t be said for Fernando Tatis Jr. since his return to the lineup. The All-Star is batting .230, but has five homers and 11 RBI. He needs to start putting the ball in play.
Jose Altuve (R) 2B
Michael Brantley (L) LF
Alex Bregman (R) 3B
Kyle Tucker (L) RF
Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
Carlos Correa (R) SS
Chas McCormick (R) CF
Martin Maldonado (R) C
Framber Valdez (L) P
Fernando Tatis Jr. (R) RF
Manny Machado (R) 3B
Jake Cronenworth (L) SS
Wil Myers (R) LF
Eric Hosmer (L) 1B
Austin Nola (R) C
Trent Grisham (L) CF
Ha-Seong Kim (R) 2B
Joe Musgrove (R) P
Batting average: Michael Brantley (.317)
Hits: Michael Brantley & Yuli Gurriel (135)
Home runs: Yordan Alvarez (28)
RBI: Yordan Alvarez (89)
Stolen bases: Kyle Tucker (12)
Wins: Zack Greinke (11)
Saves: Ryan Pressly (22)
ERA: Framber Valdez (2.91)
Batting average: Fernando Tatis Jr. (.282)
Hits: Jake Cronenworth (131)
Home runs: Fernando Tatis Jr. (36)
RBI: Manny Machado (86)
Stolen bases: Fernando Tatis Jr. (24)
Wins: Joe Musgrove (9)
Saves: Mark Melancon (36)
ERA: Joe Musgrove (2.85)
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