The New York Mets are on the verge of falling out of
the running in the NL playoff races. If they have any hope of closing ground
they might want to start Monday night when they host the first of three games
with the NL East-leading Washington Nationals.
Washington has taken the first two games of this series by
scores of 8-2 (in 10 innings) Monday and 5-2 Tuesday night. So the Nats will be
shooting for the series sweep Wednesday afternoon.
Washington has now won four games in a row, while the Mets
have lost 11 of their last 12 to fall three games under .500.
New York, with Johan Santana hurting, will send rookie
Jeremy Hefner (1-3, 5.85) to the mound Wednesday against Stephen Strasburg
(10-4, 2.85) for Washington.
Hefner made three starts back in May but has been pitching
in the minors and out of the Mets bullpen since. In his only outing since the
break he gave up two runs in two innings vs. the Dodgers last Saturday, and in
three appearances for the big club this month he's allowed five runs in 4 1/3
innings. On the season Hefner has given up 40 hits in 32 innings, walked four
and struck out 18.
Hefner has made one start vs. the Nationals this season,
allowing three ER on seven hits through six innings of a 5-3 Mets loss back in
Warming up over in the other bullpen, Strasburg is 12-19 in
quality starts this season, and the Nats are 13-6 in games he's started. Most
recently, he gave up four runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings vs. the Braves
last Friday, but just before that he held the Marlins scoreless through six
On the season Strasburg has allowed 95 hits in 110 innings,
walked 32 and whiffed 140.
In his one start this year vs. the Mets, Strasburg held them
to squat on two hits through six innings, walking three and striking out
As of Wednesday morning, the best MLB odds we could find on
Washington was the -168 offered at Matchbook, while New York could be gotten at
+164 at Heritage. And most baseball betting outlets were listing the total on
Wednesday's game at 7.5.
In early betting on this game, about 70 percent of the action
on the side was coming in on the Nationals, and about 60 percent of play on the
total was coming down on the OVER.
On the injury front, the Nats are playing without SS Ian
Desmond, who's on the DL with a torn oblique. But Washington rapped out 11 hits without him Tuesday.
Free MLB Pick
There's only one way we'd play this game, and that's to get
in early on Strasburg and the Nationals, before the price gets too high.
Washington took the opener of this series Monday night 8-2
in 10 innings, exploding for six runs in the extra frame. The Nationals won as
-140 favorites, and the game played 'over' on the total despite being just 2-2
through nine innings.
Also, to our delight, the Nats covered on the run line
Washington is now 7-5 since the All-Star break, and has
re-upped its lead in the NL East to 4.5 games over second-place Atlanta.
The Mets, meanwhile, are now 1-9 since the break, and have
slipped to 5.5 games out of the second NL Wild-Card spot.
Tuesday's pitching matchup is a repeat of a one from last
week, as RA Dickey (13-1, 2.84) goes against Gio Gonzalez (12-5, 3.32). The
Mets beat the Nats last Thursday 9-5, with Dickey getting much the better of
Gonzo, who got gouged for six runs in less than four innings.
Both these pitchers got off to fantastic starts this season,
but have been getting touched up a bit lately.
Dickey is 13-19 on quality starts this season, but just two
for his last five. In his first start after the break he gave up five runs in
five innings against Atlanta, then allowed three runs on 10 hits in 7 1/3
innings against the Nats. And in a relief appearance Saturday against the
Dodgers he gave up a two-run homer.
So over his last six appearances he's allowed 20 ER on 39
hits through 34 1/3 innings.
Dickey also pitched against Washington back in June, and got
a win by throwing 7 1/3 innings of four-hit, shut-out ball.
For the year Dickey has allowed 106 hits in 133 innings,
walked 29 and struck out 132.
Gonzalez is 12-19 on quality starts this season, but also
just two for his last five. Most recently he had that bad start against New
York, although before that he held Miami to two runs in six innings. Through
his first 14 starts this year, after coming over from the American League,
Gonzalez allowed more than three runs one time; over his last five starts he's
done it three times.
Still, for the year, Gonzo has given up just 82 hits,
including just six homers, in 111 innings, walked 45 and struck out 129.
That start last week against the Mets was his only outing
this year against New York.
As of Tuesday morning New York could be found at -110 at a
couple of baseball betting outlets, while Washington could be gotten at +108 at
Also, some shops were listing the total on Tuesday's game at
seven, while others had it at 7.5.
Free MLB Pick
We're not sure who's going to win this game, so we're going
to steer clear of the side. When looking at the total, we notice both these
pitchers have struggled a bit recently, and we're familiar with how bad the
Mets bullpen is. So we're going with the 'over' for Tuesday night.
To set the mood for this series, New York just got swept
three games at home by the Dodgers, losing Sunday 8-3 in 12 innings. So the
Mets have lost nine of their last 10 games to fall below .500 at 47-48.
New York now trails the Nationals by 8.5 games in the NL
East, and sits five games out of the second NL Wild-Card spot.
Washington, meanwhile, just split four games at home with
Atlanta over the weekend, winning Sunday's series finale 9-2.
So the Nats, at 55-39, lead the NL East by 3.5 games over
the Braves, and they're a half-game up on Cincinnati in the battle for the best
record in the National League.
These two teams just met last weekend in D.C., with the
Nationals taking two of three games. Washington now leads the season series with New York six games to three.
The Mets will go with Chris Young (2-4, 4.11) for Monday's
series opener (7:10 pm Eastern), while the Nats will throw a hot Jordan
Zimmerman (7-6, 2.35).
Zimmerman comes into Monday's game on a pretty good roll.
He's got nine quality starts in a row, and five in a row in which he's allowed zero or one run. He just beat
the Mets last Wednesday, holding them scoreless on four hits through six
innings, and in his other post All-Star break start he threw six shut-out
innings vs. the Marlins. Over his last 32 innings, JZ has given up just three ER
on 26 hits.
In his other start vs. the Mets this year back on June 5, Zimmerman gave up two ER on five hits through six innings.
Young, meanwhile, took the loss in that game last Wednesday
vs. the Nationals, even though he only allowed two ER on six hits through six
innings. In his other start since the break, he gave up five runs in three
innings vs. the Braves. On the season, by our strict standards, Young is only
4-8 on quality starts, but he's given up more than three runs just one time. So, for the most part, he's kept the Mets in games.
In his other start this year vs. Washington, which was also
his first appearance of the season, also against Zimmerman, Young gave up two
ER on six hits through five innings back on June 5.
As of a Monday morning perusal of some MLB odds makers, we found the Nats could be played at -124 at Matchbook, while the
Mets could be gotten at +124 at Heritage.
Washington is also available at upwards of +130 giving the
run and a half on the run line at several outlets.
And most places are listing the total on Monday's game at
In early wagering on Monday's game, about 70 percent of play
on the side was coming down on the Nationals, while action on the total was
split about 50/50.
The Mets are a lopsided 56-35 on the OVERS/UNDERS this
season, as their bullpen continues to own the worst ERA in baseball.
On the injury front, Washington SS Ian Desmond, who leads the
team in hitting at .286 and in homers with 17 homers, has a torn oblique and
has been placed on the DL.
Free MLB Pick
There's only one way
we'll play this game, and that's to take the Nationals with Zimmerman. And
since we like to gamble a little, we'll play Washington giving the run and a
half on the run line.