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Mets vs. Padres series prediction and preview: San Diego is a live underdog

Is the betting market overrating the Mets even after their stunning collapse?

Blake Snell of the San Diego Padres pitches during the sixth inning of a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at PETCO Park on September 21, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Blake Snell of the San Diego Padres pitches during the sixth inning of a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at PETCO Park on September 21, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)Read moreSean M. Haffey / Getty Images

Despite a monumental collapse over the second half of the season that saw them squander a 10.5-game lead to the Atlanta Braves, the New York Mets are still sizable favorites to win their three-game Wild Card series with the San Diego Padres this weekend. The Mets are currently sitting at -194, which gives them an implied win probability of around 66%.

That seems a tad steep. And not just because the Mets are entering the postseason reeling after getting swept by the Braves to lose the NL East, but also because a lot of the Mets’ strengths are mirrored by the Padres.

Padres vs. Mets Series Prediction: Padres +164 (FanDuel)

While the series sweep in Atlanta drew the headlines, the real story of the Mets’ collapse was that they could only muster a 17-13 record from Sept. 1 onward despite playing the Nationals, Marlins, Pirates and Athletics 23 times during that span.

That’s why it’s a bit peculiar that the market remains quite high on the Mets in this matchup.

In some ways, it does make sense that the Mets are getting support. The market was high on them all season and they closed as the betting favorite in 122 of their 162 games this season and at -200 or shorter 40 times. On the other hand, this team has played a pretty pedestrian brand of baseball against a very easy schedule down the stretch.

Adding to the concern is that the the Padres are one of a few teams that can at least compete with the Mets’ three-headed starting pitching monster of Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Chris Bassitt. San Diego’s rotation finished the season ranked sixth in the NL in fWAR, but the upside at the top of the staff is immense with Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell.

While Musgrove and Darvish were steady the entire year with a combined 3.06 ERA over 369 2/3 innings, Snell’s season patterned out differently.

Prior to July 1st, Snell posted a 5.60 ERA, 4.32 xFIP and 24.4% strikeout rate in 36 innings of work. From that point onward, the former Cy Young Award winner pitched to a 2.53 ERA, 2.78 xFIP and a 35.1% strikeout rate in 92.2 frames.

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San Diego’s bullpen finished fifth in the MLB In fWAR in 2022 and has plenty of depth with Luis Garcia, Steven Wilson, Tim Hill and Robert Suarez providing the bridge between the starters and closer Josh Hader, who may be the key to this series.

Hader has pitched to a 7.63 ERA in 15.1 innings (19 appearances) for the Padres, but he’s been stellar of late. Since Sept. 1 Hader has pitched to a 0.87 ERA and 0.58 WHIP in 11 outings. If that Hader shows up, the Padres’ 1-2 punch has a chance to hang with the Mets’ 1-2 punch of Adam Ottavino and Edwin Diaz.

As for the lineups, the Mets boast the stronger overall numbers but it’s not a notable difference, especially with Starling Marte injured.

Since the Trade Deadline (when the Padres added Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury to their lineup), San Diego has posted a .720 OPS, .317 wOBA and 108 wRC+ to go along with a 31.3% hard hit rate. In that same span, the Mets have posted a .761 OPS, .332 wOBA, 121 wRC+ and a 29.6% hard hit rate.

So while the Mets have the better portfolio, it’s worth noting that a good chunk of that production came against a very soft schedule and with Marte in the lineup.

The Mets are rightfully favored in this three-game series, but this matchup is much closer than the odds suggest.

Padres vs. Mets Series Odds:

  1. Padres: +164

  2. Mets: -194

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