Free MLB Picks: Take Brewers & 'Under' Against Struggling Mets

Thursday, June 9, 2016 11:17 AM GMT

The Milwaukee Brewers aren't as good as the New York Mets. That's not in question. But the pitching matchup in Thursday's series opener between the two might favor the Brew Crew.

What You Need To Know
Does any contender have more injury problems than the Mets right now? Slugging first baseman Lucas Duda hasn't played since May 20 due to a stress fracture in his back and isn't likely to come off the DL until early July -- and that might be optimistic. Also possibly overly optimistic is the team hoping that third baseman and captain David Wright will return in perhaps two months from a herniated disc in his neck. It's more likely that Wright, who has a history of neck/back problems, is done for the season. Catcher Travis d'Arnaud has been out since April 25 with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder and probably won't be back with the big club until late this month. Outfielder Juan Lagares partially tore a ligament in his left thumb over the weekend but is putting off surgery and trying to play through it.

That the Mets are still within striking distance of the first-place Washington Nationals in the NL East is pretty impressive and largely a result of New York's good pitching staff. But the Mets clearly need at least one more bat. They are last in the majors in runs per game since mid-May. They did acquire infielder Kelly Johnson from the Braves on Wednesday, the second year in a row New York has acquired Johnson from Atlanta. Johnson is a utility guy at best and isn't going to solve the team's offensive problems. The Mets are +600 on MLB odds to win the NL pennant again.

Milwaukee, meanwhile, surely will be a seller ahead of the Aug. 1 trade deadline (it's Aug. 1 this year, not July 31). Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun would solve a lot of New York's problems, but I don't see the Mets taking on that big contract even though Braun is among the NL hitting leaders. He has been injury-prone, too. The Brewers might not find a taker for Braun, but I'd be stunned if catcher Jonathan Lucroy is with the team after that Aug. 1 deadline.

New York swept visiting Milwaukee in a three-game series from May 20-22, with the Brewers totaling only seven runs. The Mets had 11. New York closer Jeurys Familia had two saves and a win in the series as the Mets came from behind in each game. It was their first three-game sweep of the Brewers since September 2008 and first at home since April 2002 (old Shea Stadium). Braun played in just one game due to injury. Michael Conforto had a nice series for the Mets, going 4-for-10 with two homers, three RBIs and four runs. Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson also homered.

Probable Pitchers
Considering the Mets might have the best overall rotation in the majors, especially now that Matt Harvey is right, I guess you'd have to call 43-year-old Bartolo Colon the weak link of that group. But Colon has been pretty darn good at 4-3 with a 3.27 ERA. He has allowed just four earned runs over 18 innings in his past three starts but has been saddled with no-decisions in the past two. The Mets are 2-6 on MLB picks in Colon's past eight Thursday starts.

Colon didn't face the Brewers in that first series and was 0-2 against them in 2015 with a 7.36 ERA in two starts. He allowed nine earned runs and 17 hits in 11 innings. Milwaukee batters hit .340 off Colon. Braun is 3-for-6 career against him with a home run and three RBIs. Aaron Hill is 2-for-7 with three RBIs. Scooter Gennett is 1-for-6 with a solo homer.

The Brewers go with their ace, 27-year-old right-hander Jimmy Nelson (5-4, 3.43). He suffered his first loss since May 12 on Friday, allowing a season-high six runs on seven hits (two homers) over a season-low four innings in Philadelphia. Nelson's previous four starts had all been quality. The Brewers are 5-2 on MLB picks in Nelson's past seven series openers.

Nelson didn't face the Mets in the first series and beat them in his lone 2015 start against New York, allowing one earned run and two hits over eight innings with five strikeouts. Neil Walker is 5-for-15 with a double and RBI against Nelson career. Granderson is 2-for-5 with a solo homer. Cespedes is 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Final Analysis
Brewers and 'under.' New York is 1-6 in Colon's past seven starts vs. NL Central teams. The Brewers have won four of their past five series openers. The 'under' is 3-1-1 in Nelson's past five. The 'under' is 6-0 in the past six meetings in Milwaukee.

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MLB Picks: Brewers -112 & Under 8.5
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline