NEW YORK METS (31-37)
at LOS ANGELES DODGERS (44-26)
First pitch: Monday, 10:10 p.m. ET
Line: New York +245, Los Angeles -290, Total: N/A
The Dodgers will be looking for their fourth straight win when they host the Mets on Monday.
The Mets had lost three straight games before beating the Nationals 5-1 on Sunday, and they really need to put together a big winning streak in order to get back into the thick of things. A sweep over Washington would have made things pretty interesting for New York, but dropping three in a four-game set was very demoralizing. The Mets will need to find a way to regroup, but that is not going to be easy against a red-hot Dodgers team. Los Angeles has won three straight and nine of its past 10 coming into this one. The team also has the edge on the mound here, as LHP Clayton Kershaw (9-2, 2.23 ERA, 105 K) is going to be starting on Monday. For the Mets, it will be RHP Zack Wheeler (3-4, 4.48 ERA, 59 K) trying to hold his own against the lefty superstar. Wheeler has had some good outings this season, but that is a lot of pressure to put on a guy that just allowed eight earned runs in only 1.2 innings of work against the Cubs on Jun. 13. One trend that favors the Mets is that they are an interesting 31-11 against the money line when playing on Mondays over the past three seasons. Theyíre also 25-14 against the money line in road games after having lost three of their past four games over the past three seasons. The Dodgers, however, are a ridiculous 32-7 against the money line with Kershaw on the mound over the past two seasons.
Zack Wheeler is arguably coming off of the worst start of his career, and heís going to need to find a way to move on and be ready for this one. This Dodgers offense is similarly as dangerous as the Cubs, so Wheeler must avoid the mistakes that plagued him in his most recent outing. He walked three batters and allowed two homers in that game, and that was in only 1.2 innings of work. If he canít throw strikes and stop putting runners on then the Mets are going to lose this one. Offensively, two Mets to keep an eye on in this game are OF Jay Bruce (.273 BA, 18 HR, 47 RBI) and 3B Wilmer Flores (.296 BA, 6 HR, 20 RBI). Bruce and Flores are two of the only players on this team that have been able to get to Kershaw in the past. Bruce is 5-for-20 with two homers and three RBI against the lefty in his career, and Flores is 3-for-9 with an RBI. Itíd be big for New York if both of them can find a way to produce here. Itís hard to imagine runs coming from anywhere else, as the rest of the Mets roster is just 18-for-126 (.143 BA) against Kershaw.
It might be odd to say that Clayton Kershaw is struggling this season, but he honestly is. His 2.23 ERA is ridiculous by anybody elseís standards, but Kershaw has had an ERA of less than 2.00 in three of the four seasons before this one. Still, the Dodgers will gladly accept what the lefty is giving them right now. Even with this being his worst season in the past five, he is still the best pitcher in the National League and could very well win another Cy Young Award. Shutting down a banged up Mets lineup likely wonít be a problem for him either. The run support for Kershaw could come in a number of ways, but keep an eye on SS Corey Seager (.281 BA, 9 HR, 32 RBI) and OF Cody Bellinger (.261 BA, 19 HR, 43 RBI) in this one. Both of these youngsters are some of the best hitters in baseball right now, as Seager has raised his average from .271 to .281 over the past nine games and Bellinger has hit seven bombs in the past eight games. Going against Wheeler should not be much of a challenge for either, so expect them to continue to produce on Monday.