In a rematch of last weekend's series in New York, the Mets travel to Miami to take on the Marlins in a 3-game set starting Friday night. The Mets have been scuffling a bit this week as they attempt to stave off the hard-charging Braves and Phillies in the NL East. Miami, far back in 4th place, will look to gain some ground this weekend at home against the first-place Mets. Friday's pitching matchup will feature righty Taijuan Walker (5-2, 2.88) of the Mets against Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara (7-2, 1.72). First pitch is scheduled for 640pm EST.
First and Headed to the SurfThe New York Mets are now 45-26 coming into this weekend's series with the Marlins. The Mets have withstood injuries to 3/5 of their rotation but the chinks in the armor are starting to show for the Amazins'. After winning three out of four against the Marlins last weekend, the Mets went into Houston and dropped two straight. On Wednesday afternoon, the Mets allowed four runs in the first inning and another run in the third and never could quite get over the hump in a 5-3 loss. Veteran starter Carlos Carrasco had his second poor start in his last three games, lasting just 2.1 innings and allowing four hits and five runs. The Mets had 8 hits in the game, left 7 runners on and struck out 11 times in the loss.
The Mets pitching depth has been tested for the better part of the last two months with a mountain of injuries to their starting staff. Help may be on the way soon as Max Scherzer made a rehab start on Wednesday. They are still, however, most likely going to be without starters Jacob deGrom and Tylor Megill til likely after the all-star break. The Mets bullpen has had to carry a heavier bullpen with all the injuries and are just 13th in baseball in ERA. The Mets also have the 5th most blown saves in baseball with 11 thus far. On the mound on Friday night will be Taijuan Walker. Walker has four quality starts among his 11 thus far this season and leads the staff with a WAR of 1.8 at this point. Walker has been excellent in his last two starts, allowing two runs in total while going 12 innings and allowing 8 hits and striking out 19 batters. The 19 strikeouts are well ahead of his season pace of under 7K/9.
Fishing for SuccessThe Marlins continue their home stand with this series against the first-place Mets. The Marlins dropped three out of four last weekend in New York before returning home for another 4-game series against the Colorado Rockies. The Marlins will enter Friday night's game playing their 8th of 11 straight games. On Thursday afternoon at home against the Rockies, the Marlins pulled out a 3-2 victory thanks to some stellar relief work after starter Braxton Garrett was removed after 4.2 innings after giving up 9 hits and throwing 94 pitches. Four relievers went the final 4.1 innings, allowing just 3 hits and no runs in the Marlins' third straight win.
The Marlins have a team ERA under four this season at 3.95. They are 15th in quality starts with 22 but just 23rd in baseball in bullpen ERA. At the plate, the Marlins are 13th in runs per game, 15th in slugging percentage and 17th in on base percentage. As a team, the Marlins are mapping out to be a very average team both on the mound and at the plate. Miami turns to its ace in Sandy Alcantara on Friday night. He was been outstanding for Miami this season leading the team in quality starts, wins, ERA, strikeouts and an impressive 4.3 WAR. He's averaged over 8 innings a start in his last three starts and let up a total of 4 runs while giving up just 18 hits and striking out 19 batters.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Hard to bet against the Mets and even Walker as of late but that's how good Alcantara has been. He is almost guaranteed to get the team into the 8th inning at least, has 11 quality starts out of 14 and has the 3rd lowest ERA in baseball. Last weekend against the Mets, he shut down the Amazins' going 8 innings and allowing six hits and two runs in the Marlins' only win of the series. He is the definition of a stopper and will undoubtedly be asked to carry the Marlins through to a win in the series opener. Walker will be under immense pressure to keep the Marlins to under two runs to give his team a shot. Walker has pitched well of late but does not possess the ++stuff of Alcantara. The Marlins are a significantly better hitting team at home than on the road with a .262 home batting average.
Take the Marlins with the money line in this spot.
Full-Game Total Pick
When one of the pitchers has an ERA under 2 and the other pitcher is coming off two straight high-quality starts, expect this game to be a pitcher's duel in the warm Florida sun. Both pitchers are coming off outstanding starts against each team and, certainly in the case of Alcantara, there doesn't seem to be any reason for that to change here. The Mets bats have been a bit quiet as of late despite some gaudy numbers this year but they aren't likely to put up many crooked numbered innings against Alcantara. As for Miami, they will be playing their 8th straight game and 4th straight at home so the wear and tear is likely to affect the offense most of all. Excellent starting pitching should rule the day in this matchup.
Take the under.