Lean Big Time On Under In Terrific Pitching Matchup As Giants Host Mets

NY  Mets

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, August 18, 2016 2:25 PM UTC

Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016 2:25 PM UTC

Most likely the top pitching matchup on paper this week around baseball as the New York Mets visit for Game 1 of a four-game series. Our Handicapper looks at the MLB odds and provides his pick.

What You Need To Know
New York isn't going to repeat as NL East champion. That's a given with Washington double-digit games ahead of the Mets. So it's wild card or bust. And that's still very possible, although the Mets will be battling the NL West runner-up, the Cardinals, Pirates and Marlins for those two spots. New York hasn't played well at all since the All-Star break but also has been banged up.

But two Mets regulars could return in this series, although it's not likely that will happen by Thursday's game. Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, easily the team's most valuable hitter in batting .289 with 22 homers and 59 RBIs, hasn't played in the majors since Aug. 3 due to a quadriceps injury. But he began a minor-league rehab assignment on Monday and is on track to be activated on Friday. It could happen Thursday if Cespedes feels OK playing the field on Wednesday in the minors. Meanwhile, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera began a minor-league rehab assignment on Tuesday. Cabrera, hitting .255 with 13 homers and 33 RBIs, hasn't played in the majors since July 31 due to a strained patellar tendon in his left knee but also could be activated by Friday. He won't be ready Thursday.

You will want to monitor the status of Mets second baseman Neil Walker for this game/series as well. He was scratched on Tuesday with lower back stiffness. Manager Terry Collins said it was the same back issue that sidelined Walker for four days in mid-June. Walker is scorching hot right now, batting.455 over his past 19 games with six homers and 14 RBIs. Even if the back is OK, Walker is poised to be placed on paternity leave at any time with his wife set to give birth to the couple's first child. Nikki Walker was actually due on Tuesday.

San Francisco has played even worse than the Mets since the All-Star break -- one series win this month, for example, and a 9-20 record  overall entering Wednesday -- and is now in a virtual tie for the NL West lead with the Dodgers. The NL West runner-up would be leading the wild-card chase right now.

The Mets took two of three at home vs. the Giants from April 29-May 1. In Game 1, the Mets rolled 13-1 behind six RBIs from Cespedes. Those were all in the third inning (Mets record for one inning) when New York scored a team-record 12 runs in the frame. In Game 2, the Mets won 6-5. San Francisco avoided the sweep and ended the Mets' eight-game winning streak at the time with a 6-1 win in the finale.


Probable Pitchers
If the Mets and Giants did face off in a one-game playoff or in a postseason series and they both had their pitching set up as they wanted it, then this would be the matchup.

New York starts 2014 NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom (7-5, 2.30). He has just one win in his past four outings despite all of them being quality starts. He was last on the mound Saturday vs. San Diego and took a no-decision in allowing one run and only three hits in seven innings. The 'under' is 7-1 in MLB odds in deGrom's past eight on four days of rest.  

DeGrom beat the Giants on April 30 in that 6-5 result. He allowed three unearned runs and two hits over six innings. Career off him, San Francisco's Brandon Belt is 2-for-6 with an RBI. Hunter Pence is 2-for-8 with two RBIs. Buster Posey is 0-for-5.

San Francisco goes with lefty and 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner (11-7, 2.11), who is second in the NL in ERA and first in innings pitched (170.2) and complete games (four). The Giants had lost five straight of his starts despite Bumgarner pitching very well in three of them because they weren't scoring for him. Bumgarner finally got his first win since July 10 on Saturday against Baltimore, shutting out the  Orioles on three hits over seven innings. The 'under' is 4-1 on MLB picks in Bumgarner's past five vs. teams with a winning record.

On May 1 at Citi Field, Bumgarner beat the Mets in throwing six shutout innings, allowing six hits and striking out seven. He has an 18-inning scoreless streak vs. the Mets in New York. New Met Jay Bruce is 3-for-18 career off him with a homer and four RBIs. Walker, if he plays, is 4-for-12 with two RBIs. Jose Reyes is 3-for-6 off him.

Most certainly the best option would be to back the 'under.'  It is 6-2 in Bumgarner's past eight at home. It's 6-1 in deGrom's past seven on the road. Go Giants simply as they are home. San Francisco is 4-1 in Bumgarner's past five vs. the Mets. New York  has lost seven straight series openers. 

Free MLB Pick: Under 6.5 -120
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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