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Game 2: New York Mets (67-63) vs. Chicago Cubs (69-61)
New York Mets: 3.9 runs, -104 ML, Chicago Cubs: 4.2 Runs, -110 ML
Both the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs are reeling after home sweeps at the hands of other playoff hopefuls. Now the two square off in a pivotal late August series.
Why Take the Mets
The Mets are undefeated in Marcus Stroman’s 4 starts with the club. Although he has been pulled before the 6th inning in all but one of the games, he has proven he has the ability to compete, elevating the play of his teammates through example. He already has two of the best fielding plays by any pitcher this season in his short time in a Mets uniform.
The Cubs continue to exacerbate the most extreme home road splits in the MLB. They’re the Yankees at home, they’re the Pirates on the road. They win 67% of their games in Wrigley Field and lose 63% of their games away from Wrigley. Since June 1st, the Cubs are 8-14 as road favorites.
Conversely, the Mets have been the best home team since the All Star break. Even after dropping three straight in Queens to the surging Braves, the Mets are 14-5 at home in the second half.
Why Take the Mets +1.5 (-180)
Cubs Starter, Yu Darvish is on an historic run at the moment. Darvish is the first pitcher since the 19th century to have five consecutive starts with 8+ K’s and 0 walks.
“He’s just a different level of talent. That’s why,” said Cubs Manager Joe Maddon when describing Darvish’s ability to work in new pitches while maintaining his impeccable control.
Darvish started off the year horribly, and lead the NL in walks well into June. However, he has improved drastically, which he credits to his recovery from off-season elbow surgery. No longer worried about lingering pain, his trademark control is now back to full affect. The numbers bear out his description. Darvish had a 5.03 ERA and 4.53 BB/9 in the 1st half. Night and day, when compared to his 3.23 ERA and 0.38 BB/9 so far in the second half of the season.
The Mets may need to wait out Darvish before they establish a lead in this game. Given the Cubs propensity to give away games late on the road, that just might be a winning formula. Having the extra run of insurance could prove crucial if both starting pitchers are effective.
The bullpens provide another small advantage for the home team here. While both units have improved dramatically since the beginning of the season, the Mets boast the 6th best bullpen ERA in the 2nd half, while the Cubs have only the 11th best mark. If the Cubs do emerge with a lead after 5 innings, I like the Mets relievers to keep us in the game and give us a chance at a backdoor cover.
The total sits at 8.5 currently, with juice towards the under. I like any sports bet that has more than one way to win.
Angle: I like the Mets to earn the win here, but I expect at least a cover given their strength at home this season. The Mets have the 7th best home record in the MLB on the season. New York has also won or lost by only 1 run in 15 of their last 17 home games. Take the Mets -180 (+1.5). Odds available at FanDuel.