Miami Marlins (58-61; 61-51-7 O/U) vs. New York Mets (53-65; 66-41-11 O/U)
MLB: Friday, August 18, 2017 at 7:10pm EST
Line: New York -115/Miami +106
The New York Mets and the Miami Marlins will kick off a three game divisional series Friday night from Citi Field. The Marlins will give the nod to 25-year old left-hander Justin Nicolino, and 23-year old right-hander Chris Flexen will take the mound for the Mets. The Marlins own a 7-6 lead in the season series.
Nicolino Shines in First Win of Season
Justin Nicolino will make his eighth appearance and seventh start of the season, aiming for his second-straight win. Nicolino was terrific in his previous performance, holding the tough Rockies lineup to two runs (one earned) in 5.1 innings and came away with the win. The third-year left-hander has had some trouble in his limited time with the Marlins this season, allowing 18 runs (13 earned) in 25.2 innings, resulting in a 4.56 ERA and a 1.83 WHIP. He has not pitched well in his 17 career innings against the Mets, conceding ten runs. Curtis Grandson is 3 for 5 with four RBI’s against Nicolino, whole Yoenis Cespedes is 2 for 6 with one homer. Marcell Ozuna has done more damage against the Mets than any other team this season, belting four home runs along with 12 RBI’s. The 26-year old left fielder is having a career-year, currently hitting .303 with 27 home runs and 90 RBI’s. Ozuna has driven in nine runs this month.
The Marlins are averaging a solid 4.71 runs per game, ranking them 13th in the Majors, and feature a .266 team batting average. The Miami pitching has been mediocre, posting a 4.54 team ERA, placing them 20th overall.
Flexen Aims for Third Consecutive Victory
Chris Flexen will make his fifth start of the season, aiming for his third straight win. Flexen was solid in his previous start, allowing two runs in five innings to the Phillies and recorded the win to bring his record to 2-1. The rookie right-hander has pitched well in his latest two starts after a rocky start and has now conceded 14 runs (13 earned) in 16.2 innings on the season. He was outstanding in the Minors, posting a dominant 1.76 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP in 61.1 innings pitched. Michael Conforto is on a power surge, smashing five home runs along with eight RBI’s over his last 11 games. The 24-year old left fielder is having a breakout season, sporting a .282 average with 26 home runs and 64 RBI’s. Conforto has notched a hit in 5 of 22 at bats with a solid seven RBI’s against the Marlins this season.
The Mets are currently averaging 4.67 runs per game, ranking them 15th in the Majors, and are hitting .248 as a team. The New York pitching has struggled, carrying a weak 4.87 team ERA, placing them down at 27th in the Major Leagues.
The Miami Marlins are:
- 7-1 in Nicolino’s last 8 road starts against a team with a losing record.
- 8-2 in Nicolino’s last 10 starts overall against a team with a losing record.
- 5-1 in their last 6 games overall.
The New York Mets are:
- 1-6 in their last 7 home games.
- 0-5 in their last 5 games against a left-handed starter.
- 0-4 in their last 4 home games against a left-handed starter.
I am siding with the Marlins in this matchup. Flexen has been very shaky, conceding a total of 14 runs in his 16.2 innings pitched this season, so I expect the Marlins to do some damage. Furthermore, Nicolino just limited the Rockies to only two runs (one earned) in 5.1 innings in his previous start, and the Mets have not been productive against left-handers as of late, so I am confident backing him. The Marlins are playing strong baseball right now while the Mets are struggling.