The New York Mets look to run their winning streak to six games as they kick off a three-game set with the San Diego Padres on Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 9:40 p.m. ET from Petco Park. It’s a marquee matchup on the mound, as Justin Verlander (3-4, 3.66 ERA) goes for New York while Yu Darvish (5-6, 4.84) makes his return for the Padres after missing more than two weeks due to illness.
San Diego enters as -125 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Mets at +105. The run total is set at 8.
Mets-Padres picks: Friday, July 7
Day to day: 3B Brett Baty (hamstring)
Out: SP Jose Quintana (ribs)
Out: SP Michael Wacha (shoulder), RP Steven Wilson (pectoral), RP Robert Suarez (elbow), C Luis Campusano (thumb)
Justin Verlander vs. Yu Darvish
Don’t look now, but it looks like Verlander may be rounding into form. After a maddeningly inconsistent (and injury-delayed) start to his first year with the Mets, the reigning AL Cy Young winner has been on fire of late, pitching to a 1.80 ERA over his last four starts. His feel for his fastball and slider has been much closer to what we’re used to, and aside from a hiccup against his former team in Houston last month — in which he still went seven innings despite allowing four runs — he’s been more or less untouchable.
Darvish, on the other hand, is still looking to get his 2023 on track. The Padres ace allowed 14 runs in 16.1 innings over a three-start span, then missed his most recent turn through the rotation due to illness. There’s certainly been some bad luck involved — his .304 BABIP is sure to come down a bit — but the righty is also getting substantially fewer swings and misses than he has in the pass, with an elevated walk rate. The result has been a lot more balls in play and baserunners, many of which have come around to score.
The Mets have broken out of their offensive slump in a big way, scoring at least eight runs in three of their last four games. With Darvish dealing with a prolonged absence — not to mention a bout with illness in which he reportedly lost seven pounds — I expect that to continue on Friday night, with San Diego doing just enough against Verlander and a questionable New York bullpen to hit this modest over.
Pick: Over 8
These are two high-ceiling, low-floor lineups, both of which have shown signs of life lately, so give me the team with the better pitcher and the plus odds. Verlander is throwing the ball far better than Darvish has, and I’ll back New York as a narrow underdog riding tons of momentum.