Chicago grabbed the opener Friday
night, slamming Mets starter Johan Santana for seven runs on 13 hits in less than five
innings, then holding on for an 8-7 victory. The Cubbies won as +160 underdogs
on the MLB betting line, and the game cruised 'over' its total of 7.5.
These two teams have split the first two games of this
series, Chicago winning 8-7 Friday night and New York winning 3-1 Saturday.
So New York, at 46-39, still sits 4.5 games behind
first-place Washington in the NL East.
Chicago, meanwhile, is now 20 games under .500 at 32-52.
Ryan Dempster (3-3, 2.11) will come off the DL to start
Sunday for the Cubs against lefty Jon Niese (7-3, 3.35) for the Mets.
Dempster, who was on the DL because of a sore right lat
muscle, is having one of those hard-luck seasons. He's a very solid
nine-for-12 in quality starts, but
Chicago is only 5-7 in games he's started. In fact, the Cubs have lost six
games in which Dempster has allowed two or fewer runs.
Just before he went on the DL, Dempster held Boston scoreless
through seven innings, Minnesota scoreless through eight innings and Milwaukee
scoreless through seven innings. So, he carries a 22-inning scoreless streak
Dempster started one game vs. the Mets last year and picked
up a win, giving up just one run on seven hits in seven innings.
Dempster is likely to be held to a pitch count Sunday, which
might mean an early appearance by the Cubs bullpen, which might not be good
news, considering the Chicago pen ranks 26th among all pens with a
Niese, meanwhile, is nine-for-16 on quality starts this
season, and New York is 9-7 in games he's started. Most recently, he held Philly
to one run on three hits through eight innings, and over his last three starts
he's allowed just four ER in 21 1/3 innings.
Two starts ago Niese limited the Cubs to one run in seven
innings and got a little run support as the Mets won 17-1 at Wrigley.
As of early Sunday morning, the best baseballs odds we could find on
New York was the -143 offered at Bookmaker, while Chicago could be gotten at
+141 at The Greek.
The Mets are also getting +150 giving the run and a half on
the run line at several baseball betting outlets.
And most online sportsbooks are listing the total on
Sunday's game at 7.5.
Early action on this game has seen a 70/30 split come in on
New York, and 60 percent of the early play on the total has come down on the
Free MLB Pick for
We're having a hard
time getting on the right side of this series. We took the Mets Friday, then
the Cubs Saturday, and got slapped twice. As for Sunday we're fans of Dempster,
but we just can't convince ourselves to take him his first time back from the
DL. So, we'll go with the Mets for our free MLB pick.
So the Cubs have won eight of their last 11 games to get to
The Mets, meanwhile, at 45-39, now trail first-place
Washington by 4.5 games in the NL East.
Dillon Gee (5-7, 4.34) gets the call Saturday (4:10 Eastern,
WGN) for New York while Jeff Samardzija (6-7, 4.77) will go for Chicago.
Gee is nine-for-16 on quality starts this year, but New York
is only 6-10 in his starts. Most recently, Gee allowed two earned runs in six
innings of an 8-3 Mets loss to the Dodgers last Sunday, and over his last three
starts he's allowed eight ER in 18 1/3 innings. On the season, Gee has given up
101 hits in 102 innings, walked 29 and struck out 93.
Gee has started once this season vs. the Cubs, 11 days ago
at Wrigley Field, and allowed four ER on nine hits in five innings.
Samardzija had been struggling mightily recently, but is
coming off one of his best outings of the season, Monday vs. Atlanta, in which
he allowed just one run on four hits over seven innings, walking one and
whiffing 11, in a 4-1 Chicago win.
Overall Samardzija is eight-for-16 on quality starts this
year, and the Cubs are 8-8 in his starts. He's now allowed 94 hits in 94
innings, walked 35 and struck out 96.
Samardzija has started once this year vs. the Mets, 10 days
ago in that series at Wrigley, and got bombed for nine runs in 4 1/3 innings.
As of early Saturday morning, the best baseball odds we could find on
New York for Saturday's game was the -142 offered at The Greek, while the best
number available on Chicago was the +137 at 5Dimes.
The Mets could also be played at +145 on the run line at
And most baseball betting outlets have tagged Saturday's
game with an OVER/UNDER of eight.
In early wagering on Saturday's game about 70 percent of
play on the side is coming in on the Mets, while 60 percent of the action on
the total is coming down on the 'over.'
Free MLB Pick for
Samardzija had been
going through a very rough stretch but looked damn good in beating Atlanta last
week. So, in hoping he can back up his most recent start with another good one, we'll go with Chicago (and the underdog price) for Saturday.
Prediction: Cubs for the win.
The Mets just took two of three games from the Phillies,
rallying for two runs in the bottom of the ninth off Philly closer Jonathan
Papelbon to win Thursday's series rubber match 6-5. New York has now won six of
its last eight games.
On the other side of this matchup, the Cubs just split four
games in Atlanta, losing that series finale Thursday 7-3. Still, Chicago has
won seven of its last 10 games.
So the Mets, at 45-38, are in second place in the NL East,
4.5 games behind first-place Washington. New York is also tied with San
Francisco for the top two spots in the NL Wild-Card race.
The Cubs, meanwhile, at 31-51, are 15 games off the pace in
the NL Central.
All-Star snub Johan Santana (6-4, 2.76) will start this
series opener Friday night (7:10 pm Eastern) for New York against Chicago's
Travis Wood (3-3, 3.05).
These two lefties squared off 11 days ago, and Wood got the
better of the deal, holding the Mets scoreless through seven innings in a 6-1
Santana has nine quality starts this year out of 16 tries,
and the Mets are 9-7 in games he's started. His last time out Santana threw
eight innings of three-hit, shut-out ball vs. the Dodgers, and over his last
three starts he's allowed just two earned runs on 12 hits in 20 innings of
For the season, Santana has given up just 74 hits in 98
innings, walked 33 and whiffed 93.
In that game 11 days ago vs. the Cubs Santana allowed two ER
on five hits through six innings.
Warming up in the other bullpen, Wood is four-for-nine on quality
starts this year, and Chicago is 5-4 in games he's started. Most recently Wood
held Houston scoreless on three hits through seven innings last Sunday, and
over his last three starts he's allowed just one earned run in 20 2/3 innings.
So far this year Wood has given up just 41 hits in 56
innings, walked 20 and struck out 39.
Friday's Betting Odds
As of late Friday morning, the best price we could find on
the Mets was the -166 offered at, among other places, Pinnacle Sports, while
the best number we found on the Cubs was the +162 at Matchbook.
New York could also be played at +140 on the run line at
And most online sportsbooks are listing the OVER/UNDER on
Friday's game at 7.5.
Looking a little more long-term, BetOnline is chalking the
Mets at -190 to win this series, with Chicago getting +165 as the underdog.
In early wagering on Friday's game about 68 percent of the
action on the side has come in on New York while play on the total has leaned
toward the OVER by a 53-47 margin.
The Mets are 25-18 at Citi Field this year while the Cubs
are 12-31 on the road.
In the only previous meeting this season between these
teams, a week and a half ago at Wrigley Field, Chicago took two of three games
from New York.
Free MLB Pick for
Wood has been
pitching well for Chicago, but we get the feeling Santana would like to prove
he was deserving of a spot on the NL All-Star staff. So we'll lay the price and
go with the Mets Friday.
Pick: Take the Mets