If this MLB handicapper told you the team with the NL's best record in was in the East Division, you may think I mean the Nationals. It's the Mets, who open a 3-game home series vs. Atlanta Braves.
What You Need To Know
At 10-3, the Mets have matched the franchise's best record through 13 games. They also were 10-3 in 1986 when they memorably beat the Red Sox in the Bill Buckner World Series and also in 2006, which was the last time New York made the playoffs (lost in NLCS). The Mets enter this on an eight-game winning streak that's their longest since winning 10 straight in July 2008. That run started with a win in the series finale in Atlanta on April 12. The Mets followed that with home sweeps of Philadelphia (three games) and Miami (four).
However, the news isn't all good. Third baseman David Wright remains on the disabled list with hamstring injury. On Sunday, the team lost catcher Travis d'Arnaud to a fractured hand and reliever Jerry Blevins to a fractured left forearm. D'Arnaud will be in a splint for three weeks and will then be re-examined. He's hitting .317 with two homers and 10 RBIs. The Mets have promoted top catching prospect Kevin Plawecki and will use him as the No. 1 and leave Anthony Recker as the backup. Blevins hasn't allowed a run in five innings (seven appearances) and has held left-handed hitters without a knock in 14 at-bats. Alex Torres will become the primary lefty specialist now as Blevins is out at least six weeks. Oddly both injuries happened in the seventh inning against the Marlins, with Blevins struck by a line drive off the bat of Miami's Dee Gordon in the top half and d'Arnaud hit by a pitch from A.J. Ramos in the bottom. The Mets already have relievers Bobby Parnell, Josh Edgin and Vic Black on the DL.
Atlanta is a pleasant surprise at 8-4 and took two of three in Toronto over the weekend. The Braves have lost just one series thus far, to the Marlins. Nick Markakis is off to good start with the Braves after signing as a free agent this offseason. The former Oriole leads the team with a .375 average. Freddie Freeman leads in homers (four) and RBIs (eight). Freeman has two hits in 12 at-bats this season against the Mets, including a solo homer.
The MLB betting odds set the Braves as underdogs tonight, and they will start right-hander Trevor Cahill in this one. He was acquired via trade with Arizona early this month. Cahill was 3-12 with a 5.61 ERA for Arizona last season. He didn't pitch well in his lone start this year, losing to the Marlins on April 14, allowing four runs and five hits, walking three, in 2.1 innings. In 2014 against the Mets, Cahill allowed a run and three hits in two innings of relief. The hottest Met right now is outfielder Michael Cuddyer, who is hitting .440 with six RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak. Cuddyer is 4-for-22 with a homer and two RBIs career off Cahill. Curtis Granderson is just 1-for-13 off Cahill. Granderson has been one of the worst regulars in the majors this season with a .146 average and no RBIs.
Left-hander Jon Niese gets the call for New York. He has been excellent in two starts. His first was in Atlanta and Niese allowed one earned run and seven hits over five innings in a no-decision. Last time out, Niese allowed one earned run and nine hits over 6.1 innings in a victory over Philadelphia. Niese has made 19 career starts against Atlanta, posting a 7-6 record with a 3.36 ERA in 112 2/3 innings. Freeman hits him well, going 11-for-40 with two doubles, two homers and seven RBIs. Jonny Gomes is 6-for-10 with a homer and two RBIs against Niese. Chris Johnson has nine hits and three RBIs in 24 at-bats off him.
MLB Betting Verdict
Take New York at +145 on the runline for your MLB picks and the 'over' 7.5 runs. The Mets are 9-0 in their past nine at home against right-handed starters. They have won eight straight vs. the NL East. The 'over' is 5-0 in Atlanta's past five after a win. The Mets are 0-4 in NIese's past four at home in this series.
Free MLB Pick: Mets on the Run-Line -1.5 (+153 at Pinnacle) & Over 7.5 runs