The betting market was high on the New York Mets for almost the entire 2022 MLB season. They were the betting favorites in 122 of their 162 games and closed -200 or shorter 40 times. According to Action Labs, only the Dodgers, Astros, Yankees and Braves surpassed the Mets in both of those categories.

And for most of the season, the market sentiment surrounding the Mets was warranted. From April to September, the team was playing like a World Series favorite. Until the midsummer, it looked as if they would cruise to the NL East crown.

Of course, that wasn’t meant to be. The Mets ended up winning 101 games but famously coughed up a 10¹/₂-game lead in the NL East and now have to play the San Diego Padres in a three-game wild-card series while the Braves have their feet up, awaiting either the Cardinals or Phillies.

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Mets vs. Padres series prediction: A plus-money play for 2022 MLB playoffs

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You’d think the Mets’ choke job would have cooled off the market sentiment a bit, but they’re still entering this series against the Padres as whopping -185 favorites (BetMGM). That seems a bit steep for a team that could only muster an 18-13 record from Sept. 1 onward, despite playing the Nationals, Marlins, Pirates and Athletics 23 times during that span.

Mets vs. Padres series prediction: A plus-money play for 2022 MLB playoffs

Francisco Lindor reacts after his RBI double in the sixth inning.

Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

What’s even more concerning is that the Padres are one of a few teams that can come close to matching the Mets’ three-headed starting pitching monster. San Diego’s rotation finished the season ranked sixth in the NL in fWAR (FanGraphs’ calculation), but the upside at the top of the staff is immense with Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell.

While Musgrove and Darvish were solid all season with a combined 3.06 ERA over 369²/₃ innings, Snell’s season patterned out differently.

Prior to July 1, Snell posted a 5.60 ERA, 4.32 xFIP and 24.4 percent strikeout rate in 36 innings of work. From that point onward, the former Cy Young Award winner pitched to a 2.53 ERA, 2.78 xFIP and a 35.1 percent strikeout rate in 92²/₃ frames.

San Diego’s bullpen finished fifth in the majors in fWAR in 2022 and has plenty of depth with Luis Garcia, Steven Wilson, Tim Hill and Robert Suarez providing the bridge between the starters and closer Josh Hader, who may be the key to this series.

Hader has pitched to a 7.63 ERA in 15¹/₃ innings (19 appearances) for the Padres, but has been stellar of late. Since Sept. 1, Hader has pitched to a 0.87 ERA and 0.58 WHIP in 11 outings. If that Hader shows up, this Padres bullpen 1-2 punch has a chance to hang with the Mets’ tandem of Adam Ottavino and Edwin Diaz.

Mets vs. Padres series prediction: A plus-money play for 2022 MLB playoffs

Max Scherzer worked through his shares of aches and pains, but still finished with a 2.29 ERA in 23 starts. Robert Sabo

Robert Sabo

As for the lineups, the Mets boast the stronger overall numbers but the difference between the teams isn’t anything to write home about, especially with Starling Marte set to miss the series with a broken finger.

Since the trade deadline (when the Padres added Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury to their lineup), San Diego has posted a .720 OPS, .317 wOBA and 108 wRC+ to go along with a 31.3 percent hard hit rate. In that same span, the Mets have posted a .761 OPS, .332 wOBA, 121 wRC+ and a 29.6 percent hard hit rate. But remember, a good chunk of that Mets production came against a very soft schedule and with Marte in the lineup.

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The Mets are deserving of their status as series favorites against the Padres, but this matchup is much closer than the odds suggest. And if you are interested in betting the Mets, you may as well bypass the series price and back them to win the World Series instead.

The recommendation is to play the Padres to win the series (+150 at BetMGM).

Source: Mets vs. Padres series prediction: A plus-money play for 2022 MLB playoffs

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