PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (73-74)
at NEW YORK METS (66-80)
First pitch: Monday, 7:10 p.m. EDT
Line: Philadelphia -110, New York +100, Total: 6½
As the Phillies have pushed their way back into Wild Card contention, the Mets will look to play spoiler and give Cy Young contender R.A. Dickey his N.L.-leading 19th win of the season.
The Phillies entered Houston on Thursday with a seven-game win streak, but dropped three of four to the Astros, the majors’ worst team (48-99). They’ll take on another slumping team in the Mets, who have lost eight of their past nine, surpassing three runs just twice in this nine-game span. But Dickey is the only pitcher who can compete with that sort of run support, sporting a 2.60 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 18-5 record in 29 starts this season. He has been just as good lately with a 1.72 ERA and 3-1 record in his past five starts. On Monday, he faces southpaw Cliff Lee, who has recovered from a poor start to develop a 5-7 record in 2012 on a 3.36 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. He has been particularly dominant lately in his past four starts (all Phillies wins), going 3-0 with an 0.99 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 23 K’s and just two walks in 27.1 innings. But the Mets appear poised to play spoiler here given their domination of the Phillies this season, having taken 10 of the 15 series games already in 2012. And as home underdogs with one of baseball’s best pitchers on the mound, they should be the play. Take NEW YORK to prevail in this one.
This pair of three-star FoxSheets trends also favor the Mets:
Play Against - All favorites with a money line of -110 or higher (PHILADELPHIA) - with an on-base percentage of .375 or better over their last 10 games, with a hot starting pitcher- WHIP <= 1.000 over his last 3 starts. (56-41 over the last 5 seasons.) (57.7%, +42 units. Rating = 3*).
N.Y. METS are 28-8 (77.8%, +24.2 Units) against the money line after a game where they had 2 or less hits since 1997. The average score was N.Y. METS 5.0, OPPONENT 3.2 - (Rating = 3*).
Cliff Lee earned his first win of 2012 against the Mets on July 4, snapping a 13-start personal winless streak to start the season. Overall, in seven career starts against the Mets, he has a 3-1 record (team 4-3) with a 2.25 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. And, by averaging 7.0 innings per start this year, he largely eliminates one of Philadelphia’s greatest weaknesses—its bullpen. Philly relievers have a 5.07 ERA and 1.44 WHIP on the road in 2012 with just 19 saves in 29 chances (66%). The bullpen has been much better this month though, sporting a 2.33 ERA in 38.2 September innings.
Like Lee, Dickey’s endurance is key to his success, as the knuckleballer is averaging 7.0 innings per start. He averages 7.2 innings per start at home, where he has a stellar 2.40 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and an 8-2 record. And with the Mets bullpen sporting a poor 4.69 ERA and 1.40 WHIP on the season, it’s best that they pitch as little as possible. Given the Mets anemic offense, Dickey will have to throw a gem to win this one, but he has done that regularly in 2012. He has also had success against the Phils, sporting a 2.94 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in eight career starts against them, leading his team to three straight wins in the series with a 3.00 ERA and 6.0 K-to-BB ratio (18 K, 3 BB) in this span. The home underdogs are the choice here.