A matchup between clubs well out of the postseason hunt is generally a tough sell in baseball this time of year. It's the first weekend of NFL betting and college football is already in full swing. But the weekend set at Citi Field in Queens is a little different. The Chicago Cubs pay the New York Mets a visit the next three days with both teams drawing a lot of their own fans, as well as haters, to the drama that concludes with an ESPN broadcast Sunday evening on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11th.

 

Mike Pelfrew

Terry Collins and the Mets start this series having just been swept in a doubleheader Thursday vs. the Braves that was made necessary by Hurricane Irene two weekends ago. The losses dropped New York three games below .500 (70-73), 23.5 games behind the Phillies in the standings. 

Meanwhile, Chicago has endured another, well, typical Cubs season. The only reason this isn't the worst team in the National League this year is because the Astros exist. The Cubs (62-81) are fifth in the NL Central

It's been over three months since the clubs last saw each other, ancient history in today's world. The hurricane season was still in the distant future to most folks when Wrigley Field hosted a 3-game set in late May, and the NFL was still in a lockout. Heck, Carlos Zambrano won a game for Chicago in that series, so that will tell you how long ago it was. 

The only good MLB odds info from that set was all three games going OVER at Wrigley. The teams stand 5-5 in their head-to-head battles since the start of 2010. 

Coleman, Pelfrey Begin Things On Friday 

Everything begins Friday night (7:10 PM ET) with MLB betting odds opening with the Mets as 135-145 chalk and an 8.5-run total. New York is favored behind Mike Pelfrey, but more because of Chicago's starter Casey Coleman (2-7, 6.61). 

It's Pelfrey's first start this season vs. the Cubs and he'll be looking to win for the third time in three career outings against Chicago. He's faced the Cubs twice here at Citi Field, and allowed a single run in 15 combined innings.

The biggest drawback for Pelfrey in this game is that he's not exactly in fine form, giving up 13 earned runs over his past four starts (21.2 IP). The plus is his opponent, young Mr. Coleman. The Mets trashed him at Wrigley in a rain-shortened game earlier this season, winning 7-4 as light -110 road favorites at the sportsbooks

But the most amazing stat for Coleman is in 15 appearances this season, 13 as a starter, the Cubs have won three times. They're 8-20 the past two seasons anytime when he pitches. 

Friday Recap: Thanks to a walk-off hit from Justin Turner, the Mets were able to rally late in the 9th inning (and with two outs) to come back and beat the Cubs 5-4.

Early Matinee Saturday, Under The Lights Sunday 

 

Randy Wells

The hot pitcher going into Saturday afternoon's game is Chicago's Randy Wells (7-4, 4.86). He will face the up and down Chris Capuano (10-12, 4.63) of New York

Wells has really only made one bad start in the second half, and is coming off three of his best starts all season. Keeping pitches in the park is the key for any pitcher, but especially critical for Wells who has served up 19 this season in 111 innings. He's had five home-run free starts, and the Cubs are 4-1. 

Capuano has been the equivalent of the coaster ride at Coney Island, up one start and then way down the next. He's coming off one of those really bad dips just two starts after a complete game, 13-K shutout. 

Saturday Recap: Saturday saw the Cubs rally late to grab the 5-4 win over the Mets bringing this series into a tie to be decided on Sunday.

Sunday night finds Matt Garza (8-10, 3.52) taking on Miguel Batista (1-0, 2.25). Yes, that Miguel Batista. 

The 40-year-old Batista has danced around 18 baserunners over his first 12 innings in New York's rotation. Both starts came against the Marlins, not exactly an imposing lineup. Garza, making his first career start vs. the Mets, has been bad luck period. He's been especially bad on the road where his ERA is 4.84 and Chicago is 4-8.

Taking a Chance: My pick for the White Sox to win two of three in Detroit last weekend couldn't have been more wrong, so proceed cautiously. There's no reason to back Coleman in Friday's game and I've got to lean UNDER on Saturday. Wells is pitching, well, well and the Cubs are 26-28 this year against lefties, especially the past couple of weeks.

They've lost to Mike Minor (Aug 23), Randy Wolf (Aug 26), Madison Bumgarner (Aug 31) and Brian Burres (Sep 2) the last four times they have faced southpaw (combined 1.84 ERA in the four games). Fine pitchers in their own rights, but hardly Steve Carlton, Vida Blue, Frank Viola and Tom Glavine.