Philadelphia Is Usually Home Sweet Home for Mets

Rainman M.

Friday, May 11, 2018 11:26 AM UTC

Friday, May. 11, 2018 11:26 AM UTC

The Phillies are heavily favored as the home team against the Mets on Friday at 7:05 ET. But recent history indicates that the Mets feel more at home in Philadelphia than the Phillies do and this reality should steer bettors towards a juicy underdog pick.

New York Mets (18-17) at Philadelphia Phillies (22-15)Free MLB Pick: Mets ML & Under 8Best Line Offered: Heritage

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Since 2012, the Mets are 41-17 in Philadelphia. They’ve also won eight of the last 12 meetings with the Phillies. At the end of last season, for instance, the Mets had lost five of six before going on to win three of four in Philly.

Bettors should only ever consider backing Mets starter Steven Matz (1-3, 4.23 ERA) on the road. His career road ERA is 3.67, .71 lower than at home. He’s apt to improve this trend in May, where his career ERA is at its lowest, 1.34.

Matz is a ground-ball inducing southpaw. He particularly relies on his sinker and curve. He tends to be more effective with both on the road. For instance, in his first home start, his curve wasn’t working for him and he threw his sinker 70% of the time. He made more mistakes with these pitches, which opponents slugged hard when he threw them over the middle of the plate. For instance, April 1 at home he left both pitches a combined 9% of the time over the heart of the plate. Six days later on the road, he did so only 4% of the time. In that road game, he kept his sinker and curve down and away much more frequently. Both pitches were working for him that day and he threw them in a more balanced ratio. When he last faced the Phillies, giving up two runs in 5.2 innings last August, he did exactly that — keep his primary pitches down and away. Since 2017, the Phillies rank 19th in BA against the sinker and curve thrown in the lowest left corner of the strike zone. They've mustered eight runs in their last three games against southpaw starters.

After a day off, the bullpen will be fresh. Seth Lugo has achieved seven straight scoreless innings. He and Robert Gsellman have combined for four scoreless innings against the Phillies this year. Both are converted starters who are upping their stuff as relievers.

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Jake Arrieta (3-1, 3.15 ERA) counters for the Phillies. Arrieta is a heavy ground ball-inducing pitcher who relies especially on his sinker. On his better days, he is throwing his pitches with strong vertical movement at opposing batters’ knees. He is doing this especially with his sinker, which is inducing more ground balls this year and contributing to his higher ground-ball percentage. His 2018 sinker is enjoying an uptick in velocity and added horizontal movement, which makes it more elusive so that it creates more soft contact with the opposing bat and hence more ground balls.

The problem with Arrieta’s improvement is that the Mets, since last season, have the best BA against the sinker thrown in the lowest part of the strike zone. Last season, the Mets’ OPS (on-base plus slugging; average was .720) was over .800 against ground-ball pitchers. Newcomer Adrian Gonzalez is apt to join the act. He is 7-for-24 (.292) lifetime against Jake with two homers and a double. Asdrubal Cabrera continues to be a hot bat with a .319 BA. He is 5-for-14 with two homers lifetime against Arrieta.

The Mets have a solid matchup advantage against Arrieta and thrive at finding ways to win in Philadelphia. The 'under' has hit in three straight for Philly when facing a left-handed starter. The Phillies have produced five or more runs in two straight games four times and never produced more than three in the third game. The Mets have produced two runs or fewer in four of their past five games. Hitters Jay Bruce (paternity list) and Todd Frazier (DL) will not play.

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