A big week on the MLB betting schedule includes a very critical clash between the top two clubs in the NL East as the Washington Nationals host the New York Mets.
The New York Mets have closed in the past couple of weeks on the Washington Nationals in the NL East race, and they look to pare the gap down even more the next few days when they pay their division rivals a visit.
Game 1 of the series gets the prime-time treatment from ESPN (7 PM ET), and features the first of three young hurlers New York will be sending up against Washington. Matt Harvey takes his turn in the Mets rotation opposite Gio Gonzalez, the Nationals slight favorites at BetOnline with a -114 price. MLB odds for the contest also include a 7 run total.
The Mets begin the third series between the teams this season just two games back of the Nationals in the NL East. The previous two meetings took place in early-April and early-May, Washington taking four of seven overall to build a 101-89 edge in the rivalry since arriving in Washington DC for the '05 schedule.
Those two sets each went to the visiting club as New York won two of three in DC before the Nats avenged that by taking three of four at Citi Field. Washington owns a 35-31 advantage at Nationals Park since it opened in '08, and the 'under' was a 2-1 winner here back in April, low side bettors now bringing home the cheddar four of the last six in the nation's capital.
Mets 2-0 This Year When Harvey Faces Nationals
New York (48-44, +3.7 units) ranks fourth in the National League wild card race, 5½ behind the Pittsburgh Pirates at the top of that heap and only two games behind the Cubs for the second slot. The Mets avoided being swept in St. Louis over the weekend by taking Sunday's series finale that went 18 innings and saw manager Terry Collins use six relievers a day after having to go to his bullpen in the fifth inning of Saturday's 12-2 defeat.
Harvey pitched the Mets to dubyas in six of his initial eight 2015 assignments, and could have easily been 8-0 himself when he owned a 1.98 ERA after a no-decision vs. the Cards on May 18. New York hitters failed to capitialize on his efforts then, and the 26-year-old Tar Heel has since proven to be a bit more human with a 4.12 ERA, the Mets 4-5 in the subsequent 9-start span (-2.5 units).
He's been at his best against the Nationals this year, New York winning both starts against Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer. Wilson Ramos and Michael Taylor have had some limited success against Harvey, both collecting three hits in six AB's, as has Ian Desmond who is the only batter available to manager Matt Williams with a homer off the righthander.
Gonzalez Strong At Nats Park In 2015
Washington (49-41, -1.1 units) ends a little sweet spot in the schedule during which the Nationals haven't had to venture more than an hour from home in nearly three weeks. This series closes a 6-game homestand that began by dropping two of three to the Dodgers coming out of the break, the Nationals then embarking on a 10-game, 3-city tour in Pittsburgh before continuing on to Miami and Flushing to face the Mets a little more than a week from now.
Gonzalez scuffled much of the first half, his ERA consistently above the square root of 16 and battling control issues that led to the southpaw not making it through the sixth in five of his first 13 assignments. Walks have still been a problem, but the 8-year veteran went into the all-star break on a solid 3-start run, allowing one run or less in three consecutive outings, two of them lasting seven frames, and the Nats winning twice.
Monday's matchup will be the 15th career start vs. the Mets for Gonzalez, and a lot of it recently has been real good. He fired seven shutout frames against them in New York back in May, striking out a season-high 9, and pitching at home this year has produced very positive outcomes for baseball bettors (Washington 6-1, +4.85 units).
A chance for afternoon showers is in the forecast, but nothing that should interrupt the game. I'm taking the Nationals as small home chalk for my free MLB pick.
My MLB Pick: Nationals -114 @ BetOnline
Season: 60-53-2 (+8.35)