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One of the most intriguing games on Friday’s MLB schedule features two of the more disappointing teams in baseball, as the Boston Red Sox visit the San Diego Padres. Despite showing plenty of offensive competencies and having a winning record, the Red Sox find themselves last in the AL East, albeit very much alive in the Wild Card race. As for the Padres, they began the season with high expectations but have fallen flat, currently sitting fourth in the NL West and four games under .500.
After a mediocre April, things have actually gotten worse for San Diego in May. Since the calendar flipped, the Padres are just 5-10. But they’ve also lost seven of their last eight games and dropped four consecutive series. Rather than being able to turn things around after a sluggish start, the Padres are back in a slump and continuing to spiral.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox are doing their best to stay competitive in the AL East despite being at the bottom of the standings. Boston isn’t far removed from an eight-game winning streak that helped to cancel out a subpar April. They also took a series from the Mariners earlier this week. However, they also got swept by the Cardinals last weekend and have lost six of their last nine games.
Despite the Red Sox winning back-to-back games against the Mariners before heading to San Diego, the Padres are home favorites in Friday’s series opener. San Diego’s moneyline is set at -150 compared to Boston’s moneyline of +130. Meanwhile, the over/under is listed at 8.5 runs.
Blake Snell will be San Diego’s starting pitcher on Friday night. The former Cy Young winner hasn’t had his best year, posting a 4.61 ERA with a 1.54 WHIP. Even worse, the Padres are just 1-7 in games he has started in 2023 with Snell taking the loss in five of those games. But despite that record, Snell has held opposing teams to two runs or less in four of his last five starts, allowing just five total hits over his last 12 innings, so there are signs that he’s getting on track despite what his numbers may indicate.
It should help Snell that two of Boston’s best hitters are left-handed batters in Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo. In fact, that pair is a combined 2 for 14 in their careers against Snell. But with the Red Sox scoring 21 runs over their last two games, Boston brings a confident lineup to San Diego. Even if Devers and Verdugo are held in check, youngsters Jarren Duran, Pablo Reyes, and Triston Casas are all red-hot at the moment, as are Justin Turner and Masataka Yoshida, giving the Red Sox a lot of depth in their lineup right now.
The Red Sox will also send a lefty to the mound on Friday. James Paxton will be making just his second start since undergoing Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss all of the 2022 season. Paxton looked sharp in his first outing, striking out nine Cardinals over five innings of work last Friday while conceding two runs on four hits.
It should also help Paxton that he’s facing an ice-cold San Diego lineup. The Padres have failed to get going offensively all year and have endured even more problems lately. They’ve been held to three runs or less eight times in their last 11 games, averaging just 2.7 runs per game during that stretch. Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth, in particular, have fallen into terrible slumps over the past week. Juan Soto, Nelson Cruz, and Trent Grisham aren’t contributing much either. In fact, former Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is the only reliable member of the San Diego lineup right now, giving Boston an excellent chance to pull off the win on the road Friday night.
The over/under in this game is particularly tricky because they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. The Red Sox are the best team in baseball at hitting the over, going 29-13-2 O/U this year. On the contrary, San Diego has stayed under the run total more than any other team, going 14-28-2 O/U in 2023.
However, the Padres have been a little more likely to hit the over at home with Petco Park being a hitter-friendly venue while the Red Sox are still 11-6-1 O/U on the road. Given Snell’s inconsistency this season and Paxton making just his second start of the year, there is a good chance that both teams can score a few runs. Even with San Diego’s recent struggles, the over on 8.5 runs is the better pick.
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Bryan Zarpentine is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2010. During that time, he has contributed to countless sites while covering baseball, soccer, the NFL, college football, and college basketball.More info on Bryan Zarpentine
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