The San Francisco Giants might be the least likely 94-50 team in major league history but their Cinderella story doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to ending. With their win over the San Diego Padres on Monday night, the Giants clinched a playoff berth and kept their lead in the National League West over the Los Angeles Dodgers at 2½ games.
Usually, the game right after clinching a playoff spot is when a team will field an inferior lineup to give its regulars the day off. But, that’s not going to happen with the Giants because they still need to stave off the Dodgers down the stretch. The Giants also don’t really have any bad options to put in the lineup since their entire roster — from Buster Posey to Thairo Estrada — manages to contribute nearly every night.
They continue a series with the Padres, who just cannot get out of their own way right now. San Diego has lost four games in a row and has gone from playoff lock to being on the outside looking in. The Padres are tied with the St. Louis Cardinals, a half-game behind the Cincinnati Reds, who hold the second NL Wild Card spot.
Jake Arrieta starts for the Padres on Tuesday night against San Francisco’s Anthony DeSclafani. First pitch from Oracle Park is at 9:45 p.m. ET. The BetUS Sportsbook has the Giants as -175 moneyline favorites while the Padres are at +155. Current MLB lines have the over/under at nine runs.
Arrieta Keeps Getting Shelled
The Padres were desperate for healthy starting pitching when they signed Arrieta as a free agent days after he was released by the Chicago Cubs. San Diego’s rotation has been battered by injuries and even most of the healthy starters, like Yu Darvish, Chris Paddack and Blake Snell, have been surprisingly ineffective. The Padres expected to have one of the best rotations in baseball but have resorted to signing guys with ERAs near 7.00.
Arrieta has only made two starts for San Diego and neither has been particularly good. He was beat up by the Colorado Rockies in his Padres debut and pitched better against the Houston Astros last time out but still gave up three runs in five innings. His ERA is now up to 7.04 and there isn’t much reason to think that it’ll get much better anytime soon.
It certainly doesn’t help to face the Giants, who have hit the second-most home runs in baseball and are fourth in slugging percentage and OPS. San Francisco mashes against all pitchers but does especially well against righties (.772 team OPS) and at home (.782 team OPS). That’s a bad combination for Arrieta. If you’re betting online, it’s smart to back the Giants here.
While the Giants’ shocking offensive success is more eye-catching, they have also benefited from having one of the more consistent and reliable starting rotations in the game. San Francisco has received season-long dominance from unlikely arms such as DeSclafani. After posting a 7.22 ERA with the Reds in 2020, DeSclafani signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Giants and has done nothing but shove since moving to the Bay.
He has a 3.33 ERA in 27 starts (with two shutouts) in by far the best season of his career. Along with Kevin Gausman, Logan Webb and Alex Wood, DeSclafani has headlined a rotation that has had to make do without Johnny Cueto this month. Now, the Giants find themselves with the most wins in baseball.
However, DeSclafani has had some hiccups lately. He couldn’t finish five innings against the Rockies in his most recent start, in which he gave up seven hits and three runs. He fired six shutout innings against the Dodgers in his previous start but was pretty ineffective in August, when he battled a couple injuries. DeSclafani looks to be healthy now and should be able to get back on track against a talented but severely struggling Padres lineup. The MLB odds reflect DeSclafani’s strong chances in that matchup.
Padres Ice Cold
On paper, the San Diego offense should be among baseball’s best. However, in reality, the Padres rank in the middle of the pack in almost every offensive category of note. This underperformance can’t really be blamed on injury, either, as other than Fernando Tatís Jr. and Trent Grisham, San Diego has been pretty healthy from a position player perspective.
Tatís, Jake Cronenworth, Manny Machado and Wil Myers have all been really good while Grisham, Tommy Pham and Eric Hosmer have hit better than the league average despite failing to play as well as expected. The issues have been at catcher, where neither Victor Caratini nor Austin Nola have hit much, and on the bench. San Diego has gotten basically nothing from any reserves or from trade-deadline pickup Adam Frazier, who is batting .227 with San Diego.
The Padres are very top-heavy and this season has shown that Tatís can’t do it all himself. If San Diego is going to turn this thing around — the Padres have scored just five runs during this four-game skid — then multiple guys are going to have to contribute instead of just the players on the long-term, big-money contracts.
That’s not easy to do against the Giants, though, because they never seem to lose to anyone. So, if you’re making MLB picks today, add the Giants’ runline to your card.