MLB Picks: Padres To Have A Strong Series Opener vs. Unsuspecting Brewers

Thursday, May 12, 2016 5:50 PM GMT

The underdog Padres swept a doubleheader from the best team in baseball yesterday in the Chicago Cubs, and they are the MLB pick to now build on that momentum visiting Milwaukee.

MLB Record: 18-20-1, +1.23

San Diego Padres vs. Milwaukee Brewers
The road team has been playing much better since a terrible start and it swept a doubleheader from the best team in baseball yesterday, which could lend good value Thursday night to James Shields and those San Diego Padres (15-20, 7-9 away) as they pay a visit to fellow right-hander Jimmy Nelson and the Milwaukee Brewers (14-20, 8-9 home) in the first game of a four-game weekend series from Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI at 8:10 ET on FOX Sports - San Diego. The posted money line at BetOnline has San Diego as a moderate underdog for this contest at current MLB odds of +123.

 

Great Day and Night vs. Cubs
The Padres were off to a simply dreadful start this season as they could not hit a lick while opening up at 7-15, and it seemed at that time that they were unlikely to reach their already modest preseason posted win total of 74. However, while they remain in last place in the National League West, they have now won eight of their 13 games since that tough start, culminating with a doubleheader sweep of the now 25-8 Cubs in Chicago yesterday!

The Padres are not the only last-place team in this contest though as the Brewers have that same “honor” in the National League Central, but the difference is that while San Diego remains only 2½ games out of first place despite being in last, Milwaukee is already a whopping 11½ games behind those Cubs. The Brewers ended a seven-game road trip as the losing MLB picks in two out of three games to the Marlins in Miami after splitting four games in Cincinnati.

Shields Better Than His Record
Shields is somehow 1-5 on the season, but he is obviously a much better pitcher than that as indicated by his 3.60 ERA, and although he did allow four earned runs in six innings vs. the New York Mets on Sunday including being the first Major Leaguer ever to give up a home run to Bartolo Colon, that outing snapped a streak of four consecutive Quality Starts including allowing just one run in each of his previous two starts.

And even on that last outing Sunday, Shields allowed only six hits (two of them homers) and struck out eight batters through his six innings, so he should be just fine and the wins should start to come if he maintains his form. This also marks the first start ever for Shields vs. the Brewers, which should make him tougher to hit.

It is also reassuring to know that should Shields be in need of relief, the San Diego bullpen has been a microcosm of the entire Padres’ team as it got off to a poor start but has been very hot lately, posting a collective 2.25 ERA and 1.09 WHIP over 31 innings in the last 10 games.

 

Rough Last Outing for Nelson
Now we are actually a bit high on the Milwaukee starter Nelson as he has a nice power sinker that allows him to combine a good strikeout rate with a very good groundball rate, but the sinker was not sharp in his last start vs. the normally offensively challenged Cincinnati Reds as he had just a 0.50 ground ball/fly ball ratio for the game, and the end result was not pretty as he allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits plus one walk in only five innings.

Perhaps the one thing holding Nelson back from being a legitimate ace is his command, as his 7.48 strikeouts per nine innings and his 49.6 percent ground ball rate are fine, he also has a high walk rate of 3.74 per nine innings, which is actually running a bit worse than his career rate of 3.21 walks per nine innings.

Also, Nelson has been quite fortunate this year in allowing an abnormally low .237 BABIP, which has helped result in a 5.14 FIP and 4.22 xFIP that is each less flattering than his 3.74 ERA.

 

Success vs. Right-Handers
Finally, much of the Padres’ resurgence since their terrible start has come vs. right-handed pitching, as they are 7-3 in their last 10 games vs. right-handed starters. Meanwhile the Brewers are just 8-17 in their last 25 games vs. right-handed starters, as well as 13-28 in their last 41 games vs. the National League West.

Expect those trends to continue for at least one more game as San Diego continues its improvement at an underdog price visiting Milwaukee for the opener of a four-game series on Thursday.

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Free MLB Pick: San Diego Padres +122
Best Line Offered: at Bovada