Atlanta Braves at New York Mets
All eyes in the baseball world will be on “the Dark Knight” in this game, otherwise known as Mets pitcher Matt Harvey. He captivated Gotham with a brilliant 2013 season, his first full year in the majors. Tommy John surgery sidelined Harvey for 2014, but he was back and great again in 2015 (remember his Game 5 World Series start vs. Kansas City?). Last season, Harvey’s year ended in early July as he underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, a nerve and blood vessel problem in the chest and shoulders. Harvey had a rib removed. It’s an unusual procedure for a pitcher to return from. Harvey was not good in 2016 before the surgery with a 4-10 record and 4.86 ERA. This spring, he has knocked around for 23 hits over 18.1 innings for a 5.89 ERA. The Mets were still pleased because Harvey’s velocity was back. If Harvey is in 2013 or ’15 form this year, the Mets will contend. If not, probably not. Harvey will be opposed Thursday by Braves lefty Jamie Garcia, who has acquired via trade this past offseason from St. Louis. Atlanta could look to flip Garcia by the July 31 trade deadline if he has a good season.
Milwaukee Bucks at Indiana Pacers
As usual, a slower NBA slate on Thursday, and Bucks-Pacers is arguably the most important game of the six. Spots 5-8 in the Eastern Conference playoff race are all up for grabs. Milwaukee currently holds down No. 5 and appears to be in good shape of at least making the playoffs. Where is the question. Indiana is in a dogfight for the seventh and eighth spots with Chicago and Miami. The Pacers are slumping at the wrong time, having lost six of eight – although they did get a big home win over Toronto on Tuesday behind 35 points from Paul George. Indiana is a terrific home team at 27-12. Milwaukee is on a two-game losing streak and, including this one, plays three of its final four on the road, where the Bucks are 18-20. Milwaukee is 3-0 SU and ATS vs. Indiana this year, winning each by at least 14 points, and is looking to sweep the regular-season series for the fourth time in the history of the rivalry and first since the 2009-10 season.
Deep Dive: Ranking Lineups
Rob Veno joins Pauly & Teddy in the Deep Dive to examine some interesting lineups in baseball this season. The guys believe the best overall could be the Indians after adding slugger Edwin Encarnacion this offseason in free agency and a full season of former All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley. He was limited to just 11 regular-season games in 2016 due to injury. The guys also are bullish on the lineups of the Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Kansas City Royals, although none of those teams’ pitching staffs are very good. The New York Mets are loaded in starting pitching but their lineup is full of holes and health questions. David Wright is already hurt again.