The Phillies stumbled out of the gate to a 1-3 start, but have won the last two games against the Miami Marlins to even their record at 3-3. The Mets have started strong and have posted a 4-2 mark for the season, but do not keep looking to them in your MLB picks.

5* graded play on the Philadelphia Phillies as they host the Mets in first of a three-game series set to start at Citizen’s Bank Park at 7:05 PM ET. 

The Phillies will be favored on the MLB odds board in all three games and the pitching matchups heavily favor Philadelphia. In Game 1, Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee will face Met’s knuckleballer R.A. Dickey with the Phillies favored on the money line at -170. Game two will see Philadelphia send last year’s rookie sensation Vance Worley to face the Mets Jonathon Niese. In the finale of this three game series, the Mets get no rest and have to face Cole Hamels. They will counter with Mike Pelfry. 

 

It doesn’t require much analysis, quite frankly, it is obvious that the Phillies should take two-out-of three or get a complete three-game sweep of the Mets over the weekend. Let’s take a look at the analysis though for Game 1. 

Cliff LeeCliff Lee 

Lee has been absolutely dominating in his three career starts against the New York Mets posting a 2-0 record with 0.43 ERA spanning 21 innings of work. In his first start this season he went six strong innings allowing two hits and one earned run on 99 pitches in a no-decision 2-1 loss at Pittsburgh. The current members of the Mets have batted a combined .214 with one home run spanning 56 at-bats against Lee. 

Lee has an excellent fastball that he will throw 84% on the first pitch of an at-bat. The best pitch in all of baseball is not a 100 MPH fastball or a knee-buckling slider, but a pitch called strike one. The Phillies entire staff are excellent at getting ahead in the counts. An MLB player’s batting average will drop more than 75 points after an 0-1 count has been established. 

Batter’s are hitting .154 after Lee throws a first pitch strike this season. He has thrown a first pitch strike 13 times in 18 tries. In 2011, batters hit .222 after a 0-1 count spanning 474 at-bats. It has been quite evident that the Mets, as a team, have adopted a far more patient approach to their at-bats in the first six games of the season. However, that strategy will fail miserably if you allow any of the Phillies starting rotation to get ahead in the count. Most of the time, the most hittable pitch will be the first one. If players choose to attack early though and fail to get base hits, then the starter’s pitch count will be quite low and raises the probability of a complete game start. 

R.A. Dickey 

One of the rare knuckleballers left in baseball. He pitched well in his first start recording 10 groundouts of the 15 contact outs recorded. However, he walked four batters and the Phillies are a very patient hitting team. The key to hitting the knuckleball is not trying to do too much with it and simply look to stroke the ball to the opposite field. Hunter Pence and Jimmy Rollins are natural pull type hitters have have struggled against Dickey in their respective careers. So, I fully expect you will see the entire Phillies starting lineup look to hit opposite field 

Simulator projections 

The simulator shows a high probability that the Phillies will win this game. In Cliff Lee’s starts the Phillies are a solid 35-13 making 23.4 units using the money line when facing teams who strand 7.5 or more runners on base per game since 1997. In Dickey’s starts, the Mets are just 3-11 losing 9.7 units per one unit wagered using the money line when facing low power teams that are averaging 0.9 or less home runs per game over the last two seasons. 

Take the Phillies