Two teams in the midst of the NL Wild Card race will open a four-game series tonight in San Diego, with the Padres hosting the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Padres are three games back of the Diamondbacks in that race, so the importance of this series for both teams can’t be overstated. We’ll preview the opening game of the four-game set before going over why I’ll be targeting the F5 total.
After losing a series to their opponent tonight, the Padres' season was holding on by a thread, and while they still have a ways to go, taking two games out of three from the Orioles this week could be enough to start a run. San Diego took game two of the series in convincing fashion, and last night they were able to back that up with a 5-2 win.
Behind a quality start from Blake Snell and some exciting offensive highlights like Trent Grisham’s home run and Fernando Tatis Jr.’s stealing home, the Padres enter tonight with momentum.
To kick off the four-game series, veteran Rich Hill will take the mound for San Diego in his third start with the team. The lefty has not made a strong impression on Padres fans through his first two starts, allowing six earned runs in three innings in his first outing and three earned runs in 3.1 innings against the Diamondbacks in his most recent outing.
Hill will get another shot at the Diamondbacks lineup tonight, and they are fresh off their second straight series win after beating the Rockies in a high-scoring three-game set. Arizona picked up a 9-7 win yesterday, which gave them 17 total runs over their past two games. Christian Walker would supply most of the team’s offense by hitting two home runs and driving in four of the team’s runs.
Getting the start for Arizona tonight will be their ace and Cy-Young candidate Zac Gallen. The right-hander spun a gem against the Padres lineup his last time on the mound, throwing six shutout innings with eight punchouts. After three straight quality starts, Gallen is now pitching to a 3.24 ERA in 155.7 innings of work.
Gallen and Hill matched up against each other just five days ago, resulting in a 3-0 Diamondbacks win. With that said, the location of tonight’s game affects a few things and is one of the reasons why I’ll be backing the F5 over of 4.5. For as good as Gallen was against the Padres, he now faces them on the road, where he’s struggled a bit.
In 76.1 road innings this season, Gallen has a 4.72 ERA, 4.19 xFIP, and a .255 batting average against. While the Padres might be 21st in wRC+ against right-handed pitching at home over the past month, they are coming off a series in which they had 21 hits in the past two games while scoring a combined ten runs over the Orioles right-handed starters.
Conversely, Arizona is hitting .242 with a .682 OPS against left-handed pitching on the road over the last month, but they still have an ideal matchup. Rich Hill enters tonight in the 12th percentile in xSLG, 9th percentile in xBA, and 8th percentile in xERA/xwOBA. Hill also plays right into the strengths of the Diamondbacks' best hitter at the moment Christian Walker, since he is hitting .291 against lefties this season.
F5 Over 4.5