NL East rivals are going to be meeting up in the City of Brotherly Love on Monday night for the start of what should be a great series on the diamond, as the New York Mets try to beat the MLB odds against the Philadelphia Phillies.
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We give all of the credit in the world to the Mets, who are still hanging around the .500 mark and relatively in the playoff race in the National League in spite of the fact that they clearly don't have the same type of talent that the rest of the teams do in their own division. Jonathon Niese is going to be the man getting the ball on Monday night, and he could be in for a rough go of it. He has had three straight suspect starts, allowing 10 runs in just 16 innings of work after giving up just three earned runs in his first 12.2 innings in his first two starts. He was 2-0 in those two starts, but just 0-1 (and the team is 1-2) in the other three. That being said, we do have a lot of confidence in Niese, knowing that he has a solid set of splits. Batters are hitting just .222 against him, down over 60 points from last year, and as a result, his WHIP is down to just 1.15 from last year's 1.41. Niese also has 24 strikeouts in 28.2 innings of work, and we love when starting pitchers are averaging as close to a strikeout an inning as possible.
The Phillies have really looked mortal over the course of the last few weeks, and we are starting to wonder whether they are going to be in control of the NL East at any point over the course of this year. Roy Halladay is going to be on the bump on Monday night. You would figure that that would be a good sign, knowing that this is a man that has won 40 games over the course of the last two seasons. However, Doc has led his team to three straight defeats on the MLB lines, including when he allowed eight runs on 12 hits in 5.1 innings of work against the Atlanta Braves on May 2nd. The offense really isn't helping Halladay that much, as the team has scored just one run in three of his six starts this year. That being said, Halladay has been good, but not great as we are used to, and that could make a real difference. He had 17 complete games over the course of the last two seasons, but has yet to have one in six starts this year. Halladay also has 29 strikeouts against 10 walks, and that 2.9 K/BB ratio is a far cry from his 3.7 for the rest of his career.
New York Mets @ Philadelphia Phillies Pick: Still, the Phillies are the better team in this game, and they are going to have the better pitcher on the mound. At some point, Halladay is going to get back in the saddle and be a tremendous star again, and we just don't see that type of star power out of Niese. The righty should be able to get the Phils back in the win column to start off this week.
Free Baseball Pick: Philadelphia Phillies