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Padres still lurking

First the good news. The San Diego Padres have the second-best record in the National League.

Now the bad news. The San Diego Padres have the second-best record in the NL West. 

But there’s more good news. With their win over Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers Monday night, the Padres pulled to within a game and a half for the Division lead and the potential top seed in the NL Playoffs. After splitting the first eight meetings, they have two more games against the Dodgers on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon. As you read this it’s possible that the Padres will have overtaken the Dodgers.

After season after season of futility, the Padres and their fans have reasons to be excited about the future. Those reasons include Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado at the peak of his career, a host of surrounding offensive talent and a pitching staff that features developing young talent.

Playing in the shadow of their powerful neighbors to the north, the Padres have attracted the attention of the betting markets. At the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, San Diego is 6-1 to win the NL pennant and 12-1 to win the World Series after opening at 15-1 and 30-1 respectively just prior to the shortened season’s start in late July. Entering Tuesday with MLB’s third-best record makes a play on the Padres worth considering.

Certainly, they will not be in their accustomed role of traditional longshots for 2021 when opening odds are posted likely in late October. But they still could present value for 2021 as might the Chicago White Sox in the AL.

Less than two weeks remain before the expanded and modified playoffs begin so games carry more importance down this stretch.

The Yankees have shown some life lately, winning five in a row, albeit four were against Baltimore. The fifth was against Toronto, whom they will face seven more times, including three games this week. After briefly flirting with missing the playoffs, success against the Blue Jays would vault New York into second place in the AL East.

It would take a huge slump by Tampa Bay for the Yanks to pass the Rays for first. They finished season play 2-8 against the likely AL East champs.

Friday/Saturday

Nationals at Marlins: Miami has been one of the surprise teams of the shortened season. After missing several games in the season’s first significant COVID-19 breakout, the Marlins sat second in the NL East and fifth overall in the senior circuit following Monday’s win over Philadelphia.

Sixto Sanchez joined the rotation in late August and has made five starts. His debut was disappointing, and only mildly at that. Over his next four he’s allowed just three runs while pitching six and seven innings of scoreless baseball in two games. For the full five games, he’s struck out 29 while walking just 5. A star in the making? SANCHEZ over Nationals

Saturday/Sunday

Braves at Mets: The scheduled matchup is Josh Tomlin for the Braves vs. the Mets’ Michael Wacha which could set up for two plays, depending on whether this matchup materializes.

Both pitchers have struggled greatly. In six starts, Wacha is pitching to a 7.50 ERA and 1.75 WHIP while averaging just 4.0 Innings Per Start. Tomlin is only slightly better with a 6.34 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 4.3 IPS. Play OVER in a matchup of Tomlin or Wacha, splitting the play between the first five innings and full game. If they pitch in separate games, the play would be against each for the first five innings only.

Saturday/Sunday

Padres at Mariners: Houston is struggling in the AL West which gives Seattle a realistic chance to overtake the Astros for second place.

Through Monday, the Mariners trailed Houston by just a game and a half and had the better record going back 25 games. 24-year-old Justus Sheffield has been a major plus in the Mariners’ rotation. In five of his last six starts, the lefty hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any start while pitching at least six innings in each, striking out 29 while walking just eight.

Considering the lofty record of San Diego, Sheffield could be a nice underdog in his start, or at worst a small favorite. SHEFFIELD over Padres

Last week: 2-0

Season: 14-7