Following a less than successful road trip through Atlanta, Arizona and Colorado, the New York Mets aim to get back on track in their upcoming home stand, which begins with a three game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers today (7.05pm ET Friday, June 22-24).
Finding themselves 11.5 games out of first place in the NL East, the Mets will have their eyes set on a possible wildcard if they hope to make the postseason. That won’t be easy however as in their division alone, there are two teams that outrank them for that potential spot. The Dodgers, just two games back of the lead in the NL West, are still very much alive in that conversation.
With the MLB All Star break just under a month away, both of these teams will look to keep pace with their divisional and wildcard opponents in order to sustain their shot at reaching the postseason.
Game One – (LA) Alex Wood vs (NYM) Zack Wheeler
The first game of the series, which takes place on June 22nd at 7:05 PM ET at New York’s Citi Field, pits lefty Alex Wood against righty Zack Wheeler. Wood bats right handed, Wheeler bats left handed and they pitch with the opposite arm as each other. With those exceptions, these two pitchers are remarkably similar especially as far as their numbers go this season.
The 28-year-old Wheeler is the elder statesman of the two, although just by one year. On the season he has an ERA of 4.82, a win-loss record of 2-5, 72 strikeouts and a 1.39 WHIP. Wood, who despite being younger is the more seasoned pitcher of the two, holding two years plus experience on Wheeler, also has a 2-5 record. His strikeouts at 68 are slightly less than Wheeler but his ERA at 4.22 and WHIP at 1.18 are slightly better.
To try to differentiate the two a bit, one has to look to more at the splits. For example, Wheeler is actually a worse pitcher at home. His ERA is 5.14 (5.53 at night) and he has an 0-4 record. Opponents are hitting .291 off of him at Citi Field compared to .261 on the season. Coming in as the road pitcher, that gives Wood the advantage here. While Wood’s home and road numbers are shockingly similar, his road ERA of 4.21 coupled with his night ERA of 3.72, is over a full run better than that of Wheeler. In the last 30 days it is Wheeler who has been the much better pitcher, allowing an ERA of just 3.68 compared to the 7.13 mark of Wood.
This will be the first time this season that the both pitchers are facing either the Mets or Dodgers respectively. Wood, who has been dealing with some nagging hamstring issues is coming off his best start in a while, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Neither pitcher has much career experience against the lineups they will be facing. Yasmani Grandal has the most at bats against Wheeler and he has only hit against him six times (.333 average). Wilmer Flores owns the high against Wood, having recorded 13 at bats with a .308 average.
LA are the -1.5 favorite on the spread and the total is set at eight runs. The Mets rank 14th in the NL with a batting average of .231 and just 284 runs. The Dodgers meanwhile are the ninth best team in the 15-team league, so essentially middle of the pack in regards to their average of .241. They rank fourth however, in total runs scored with 339.
We give our Game 1 LA Dodgers vs New York Mets betting predictions and picks at the end of this series preview.
Game Two – (LA) Caleb Ferguson vs (NYM) Jacob deGrom
Another righty/lefty battle is on tap for game two as 21-year-old Caleb Ferguson takes the mound against 30-year-old Jacob deGrom.
This one is a little more straight forward in terms of which pitcher is having the better season. It’s deGrom. In fact, deGrom is having not just the better season of the two, but the best season among pretty much any other pitcher in the National League. deGrom leads all pitchers in the NL with his incredible 1.51 ERA. He has only given up 16 earned runs on the season. He is second in innings pitched (95.1), second in strike outs (120) and third in WHIP (0.99). 2014’s Rookie of the Year, deGrom very well could be headed toward a Cy Young if he keeps up his early season numbers.
He will face Ferguson, who is in his rookie year. The temporary replacement for the injured Clayton Kershaw, Ferguson has made three starts, none of which was particularly stellar. He has pitched just over 10 innings and has given up nine runs and walked six batters.
There is not much reason to think deGrom won’t win this one for the Mets unless he has a really bad start. The problem for the Dodgers though is that deGrom is yet to have a really bad or even minorly bad start in his 15 outings this year.
Game Three – (LA) Rich Hill vs (NYM) Jason Vargas
Two lefties take the mound for Sunday’s series finale as the advantage seemingly will shift back to LA.
The 35-year-old Vargas has yet to last more than five innings in any single start this year. He has had nine chances to do so. Vargas’ two best starts of the season came in May as he gave up zero runs in five innings twice, but June has not been kind to the 12-year veteran. Vargas is 0-3 in the month with an ERA of 8.76. In his most recent start, Vargas gave up seven runs on three home runs and lasted a season-low 2.1 innings. The Mets have lost all but two of his nine starts as well.
Another long-tenured player, Hill is having a better season and quite a respectable one for a #5 starter. Hill has a 4.99 ERA, which is much better than Vargas, but like his counterpart, the Dodgers have lost all but two of Hill’s seven starts. To his credit however, Hill is coming off the best start of his season against the Chicago Cubs. He gave up zero runs and just three hits in six innings pitched. The Dodgers lost 2-1 but that one can’t be pinned on Hill, who received the no decision.
Look for the Dodgers to win game three, and with it the series, in what could be a sloppy one.
Our Preview’s New York Mets vs LA Dodgers Game 1 Predictions & Picks Verdict
Our betting predictions advice is for Game 1, where full sets of odds are posted by the USA online betting firms. This preview suggests: