A key NL East series draws to a close with an all-star pitching duel Thursday in New York where the Mets host the Philadelphia Phillies. The hosts will send RA Dickey to the mound at Citi Field for the 7:10 p.m. (ET) start, and the knuckleballer will be opposed by Philadelphia left-hander Cole Hamels.
Don Best is sending this game out with New York a $1.40 favorite and 7½ for the run total.
The fact that Hamels is the underdog is a surprise given his 10-4 record and 3.08 ERA. Two of his wins have come against the Mets, including a victory in late May in Flushing. However, the Phils managed to win just two of his six starts during the month of June, and Hamels has struggled historically both against the Mets and at Citi Field.
Dickey's great season is the primary reason why Hamels and the Phillies are the underdogs on Thursday. The Mets' right-hander is 12-1 with a 2.15 ERA and a very impressive 0.88 WHIP.
"Dickey definitely deserves to be the favorite in this baseball game," Don Best MLB analyst Kenny White said of the New York hurler. "The knuckleball, he throws it 87 percent of the time, and he can run it up there are 80 miles per hour. He has really mastered the knuckleball better than other knuckleballer in the history of this game."
Meanwhile out in San Diego, the Cincinnati Reds will be in town Thursday to begin a 4-game series with the Padres, and the long set will begin with an intriguing matchup between Mat Latos and Edinson Volquez. First pitch at Petco Park is 10:05 p.m. (ET) and the Reds are 140 road favorites with a 6½-run total shaded to the 'under.'
Latos and Volquez were traded for each other this past winter in a deal that also included Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger and Yasmani Grandal accompanying Volquez to San Diego. So far, Cincinnati has definitely gotten the better end of the deal with Latos coming off consecutive complete games and the Reds winning seven of his last eight starts.
Latos will be facing his former Padres teammates for the first time and pitched to a 3.11 ERA in 31 games at Petco Park from 2009-11.
Volquez has also won his last two outings and will be facing his old club for the first time Thursday. He has a decent enough 3.68 ERA for the season, but White doesn't think this will be a good matchup for the right-hander who turned 29 on Tuesday.
"He does not go deep into games, throws way too many pitches and works way too deep in the counts, and that will get him into trouble against a patient Reds team."
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