Atlanta Braves @ San Diego Padres / 2022 MLB Predictions & Preview

Atlanta Braves @ San Diego Padres / 2022 MLB Predictions & Preview

The feast or famine Atlanta Braves, still trying to find their stride as the defending World Series champion, are in San Diego for the first of two West Coast series.

The Padres are still trying to find their offensive chemistry without Fernando Tatis Jr., who is still three weeks away from swinging a bat in his rehab from wrist surgery a month ago.

Both of these teams are bunched near the top of the World Series favorites list, but through just over a week into the season, neither is doing much to distinguish itself.

Atlanta Braves

Coming into the season, we knew the Braves would be pushed by the Mets for the division title. We weren’t yet clued into the fact that the Braves themselves would be responsible for the push.

The good: Atlanta put up 16 runs in a win on Tuesday against the Nationals. The bad: in the two games before that win and in the two games after it, the Braves scored a total of seven runs and dropped all four games.

It’s early, and it’s worth remembering that Atlanta did win two of four games in the opening series of the season. But they looked rough against Washington and lost 12-1 to the Padres to open this series. Now it’s about closing the series and heading up to Dodger Stadium for three games on a winning note.

One early season pleasant surprise is the dominance of Kyle Wright. In two starts, he’s thrown 11 innings, given up just two runs, while striking out 15. After bouncing between the Majors and Minors for the last four years, maybe he’s figuring it out.

San Diego Padres

Kyle Wright, the fifth overall selection in the 2017 draft, was the winner for the Braves on Friday night. He faced MacKenzie Gore, the third overall selection in the 2017 draft who was making the first start of his career.

Padres fans have to feel good about Gore, even though ultimately, the team lost his start. Not great is the fact that he’s replacing the injured Blake Snell, but very good in that he has been hyped in San Diego ever since he was drafted, and now he looks the part. In his debut, he threw 5.1 innings and gave up three hits and two runs.

It’s not that the Padres are playing that poorly. Since dropping Opening Day at Arizona, the Padres have been at or above .500 all season.

It’s just that everyone else in the N.L. West is playing good baseball. The Padres are looking up at the Giants, Rockies, and Dodgers, who are all multiple games over .500.

Braves at Padres Prediction

In 2021 when these two teams played in San Diego, the Braves swept the series. When they played in 2019 for three games in San Diego, the Braves also swept the series. They did not play in 2020.

So recent history would more than suggest that Atlanta is very comfortable playing at Petco Park and winning at Petco Park.

That, however, doesn’t make up for the disparity on the mound. For the Braves, it will be Bryce Elder, a 22-year-old making the second start of his Major League Baseball career. Elder was the Braves Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2021, finishing with a 2.75 ERA and 155 strikeouts in 137.2 innings.

For San Diego, it’s 35-year-old Yu Darvish, now in his second season with the Padres. Darvish was particularly good at Petco last season, with an ERA of 3.38 at home, as compared to 5.54 on the road.

And six of his eight wins came when he was pitching in San Diego. However, in five career starts against the Braves, Darvish is 0-4.

Darvish is the better starter and the deeper starter, which will make the struggling Padres bullpen less of a problem. And when you take the bullpen out of the equation, the Padres are the better team here in the early stages of the season.

For that reason, the Padres are the safer bet.

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