Here's this handicapper's take on how things might play out when the first-place Mets and third-place Braves open a three-game weekend series at Citi Field Friday night, plus his MLB picks included.
Braves-Mets Friday Betting Odds
As of early Friday morning the best price we could find on New York and Bartolo Colon was the -116 offered at BetDSI, while WagerWeb was giving Atlanta and lefty Alex Wood +110. Also, most shops were listing the total on tonight's game at seven runs.
Atlanta just split four games at home with San Diego, losing Thursday 6-4. The Braves led that game 4-1 through seven innings, but blew that lead and lost in 11 innings.
Just before that Atlanta lost two of three games to Pittsburgh, and just before that it lost two of three to Arizona. Going back a bit further the Braves are 0-3-2 in their last five series, 7-10 in their last 17 games.
Atlanta is also 9-3 on the OVERS in its last 12 games, in part because the bats have produced at least five runs eight times in that span.
New York, meanwhile, just lost a series at home to San Francisco, avoiding the sweep with a 5-4 victory Thursday night. Just before that the Mets split four games in Arizona; just before that they lost two of three in San Diego; and just before that they lost two of three to Miami. So New York is 0-3-1 over its last four series, 5-8 over its last 13 games.
Still, at 32-29 the Mets lead the NL East by a half-game over second-place Washington, while at 29-31 the Braves trail by 2.5 games.
In the first encounter between these division rivals this season the Braves took two of three games at Turner Field, but a week and a half later the Mets swept a three-game series at Citi Field. Five of those six games played OVER the totals, in part because those totals were posted so low.
Friday's Pitching Match-Up
Colon (8-4, 4.52), by our tough accounting, is six-for-12 on quality starts this season. Last Saturday he held Arizona to two runs through seven innings – on a seventh-inning homer - and over his last three starts he's allowed eight runs through 20 innings. New York is 2-1 in Colon's last three starts, 8-4 on the season.
Since the beginning of last season Colon has started against Atlanta five times, allowing 12 runs through 35 innings. The Mets won three of those five games.
Wood (4-3, 3.36) is only three-for-11 on quality starts this season, but all three have come in his last four outings. Last Sunday he gave up three runs in five innings against Pittsburgh, then got ejected, but over his last four starts he's allowed just six earned runs through 27 innings. Atlanta has won three of his last four starts.
Since the beginning of last season Wood has started three times against the Mets, allowing nine runs through 19 2/3 innings. The Braves lost two of those games.
If Friday's game comes down to the bullpens it would appear the Mets own an advantage. The New York pen ranks third in the Majors with a 2.67 ERA, with 19 saves in 23 chances, while the Atlanta pen, for a long time one of the best in baseball, ranks dead last with a 4.75 ERA, and has blown 12 saves.
Friday's Batting Splits
Atlanta ranks fifth in the Majors this season against right-handed pitching with a .327 team OBP.
New York ranks 16th against left-handed pitching with a .316 OBP.
New York is still playing without David Wright and Daniel Murphy. We're surprised the Mets are still above .500.
Friday Free MLB Picks
We'll call the pitching match-up a wash, and while the Mets own an edge in the bullpen, the Braves own a short edge with the sticks. We'll take Atlanta at the underdog price, and hope the Braves bullpen doesn't get too involved. Also, in thinking this game could easily get to 5-3, we like the OVER as our MLB pick.