I will be doing weekly Sunday Night Baseball breakdowns and analyses. Today will be issue #1 of the seams where ATL plays in SD against the Padres. We have Bryce Elder SP ATL and Yu Darvish SP SD with odds of SD -130 and Under 8 -120.
The first thing is who is Bryce Elder? He is a 5th round draft pick from 2020. He has made only one MLB start and that was the last time out. He throws at average velocity but is very unique in that he does not throw a fastball! He throws a split-finger 38%, a cutter 37%, and a slider 25% of his pitches. Every pitch should certainly be moving. In some sense, this is an edge for him as SD will have never seen before and all his pitches move. The first note then is expected lower scoring for SD in the first five innings. The SD batters are ranked #8 in hitting a split-finger, #26th a cutter, and #15th a slider so two pitches are average to below average with the split-finger being something SD could exploit. Again, I believe this supports the premise of lower first-half scoring. Another factor here is that SD batters are #22 in SwStr% (swings and misses at balls in the strike zone). SD has a strikeout rate of 25.7% ranking 25th worst in baseball. Elder only averages 6.35 K/9 (only 1 start) at the big league level while he was over 9.5 in minor league play. Elder was able to get a 52% groundball rate which helps to limit damaging blows. ATL has a very deep and very good bullpen. Collin McHugh and Will Smith threw 20+ pitches each last night so they would be questionable to pitch tonight. ATL still has Matzek or Minter available so they are not depleted. I think this total scenario suggests SD will not be scoring tons of runs.
SD Yu Darvish will be making his 3rd start. His 1st start was extremely good yet his 2nd start was extremely bad! In this situation, a quality pitcher such as Darvish should be expected to “bounce back” from his poor start with a good game tonight. He has thrown well against ATL in the past. In 92 previous at-bats, ATL is batting only .192 with Ozuna and Albies the only ATL batters with any relative success. Even though the batters have not faired well, ATL has won all three games against Darvish in the last three seasons which is more about the SD offense than it is about the pitcher. A concern though for Darvish is his command. He lost it altogether a couple of years back and is showing signs of similarity in 2022. His BB/9 rate is a whopping 7.04 so far this season. He has pitched 7.2 innings allowing 6BB and an HBP. Another concern is the flyball rate (44%). We want a low flyball rate in this one is pretty high. Flyballs create damage such as home runs and extra-base hits. He throws a broad mix of pitches with the curveball and split-finger being his better out pitches right now. ATL batters rank #10 vs the curveball and #14 vs the split-finger so they are competitive in this space. SD also has a good bullpen.
ATL is 11th in offense and SD is 18th. The “hot” hitters are Olson, Albies, and Ozuna for ATL, plus they have Duvall and Riley at an above-average level. AD “hot” hitters are Machado, Hosmer, and Profar who will have to navigate a pitcher they have not yet seen. I think ATL has the edge here plus it helps that Albies and Ozuna have had some success against Darvish.
Here is how to bet the game. I think there will be low scoring in this one as we should expect a good Darvish and a feal-out process for SD against Elder. The odds are 8 -120 though so an average MLB game score is 9-9.5. I think there is no value here. The better choice where value comes in is by taking ATL +120! As discussed, they have the offense, and bullpen which are two of the three-game components. I also think Elder will hold up giving ATL a chance to win this game! Have fun watching the game!