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Take a ride down Narrative Street. Soto put up a goose egg in his first two matchups with the Nats. He’s got some catching up to do and the Padres need him to hit or the National League Wild Card will slip away. Most matchups with the lowly Nats are good, but Saturday night’s showdown is as good as it gets. Josiah Gray was the Dodgers’ top prospect a season ago, but that tag has worn off and the tag of bust is being thrown around. Gray has talent and could figure it out eventually, but he won’t suddenly see the light on Saturday. Like most prospects, Gray has a live arm and throws hard — but he throws, he doesn’t pitch. When he doesn’t miss bats, balls go missing over the wall. Against left-handed batters, Gray has more than struggled. He is allowing a .399 wOBA, .330 ISO, 3.35 HR/9, 60.6 percent fly-ball rate and 32.1 percent hard-contact rate. It’s hard to decide which number is the worst.
Soto has the narrative, the matchup and the splits on his side Saturday night. Against right-handed pitching, Soto has a .264 ISO. As if this wasn’t enough, the stadium is on his side, as well. Petco Park opened as the premier pitcher’s park, but it has undergone significant changes since. This season, it is in the top 10 for home runs allowed to left-handed batters.
Lamonte Wade Jr. may seem like a strange pick on the surface, but the stats say otherwise. Against right-handed pitching, Wade has a .306 ISO. In his limited action this season, all eight of his home runs have come against right-handed pitching.
Joc Pederson (+190) is a safer pick to homer. As Garion Thorne predicted on The Sweat on Friday, Pederson broke out of his home run slump on Friday night. He is in an even better spot on Saturday night. However, it is hard to ignore Wade’s lucrative odds.
Madison Bumgarner is not close to what he once was. He is still a dependable back-end rotation arm, though. That’s how good he once was. But one of the best offenses in baseball should get to him. The Cardinals aren’t just one of the best offenses, they’re the best lineup versus left-handed pitching. The lineup features wall-to-wall right-handed bats that can mash southpaws.
Arizona doesn’t have the greatest offense but St. Louis isn’t starting the greatest pitcher. Dakota Hudson eats innings (110), but he allows runs (4.17 ERA) and doesn’t strike anyone out (13.4 percent K rate). With an 83.9 percent contact rate, it’s a miracle that he is a .500 pitcher. His saving grace is that he generates ground balls (52.8 percent) and is backed by the best defense in baseball. Hudson won’t likely implode, but he’ll give up enough runs to push this total over.
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