MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Mets vs. Dodgers: Walker Buehler Faces Off Against New York (Friday, August 20)

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Mets vs. Dodgers: Walker Buehler Faces Off Against New York (Friday, August 20) article feature image

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images. Pictured: Walker Buehler

  • The Dodgers host the Mets on Friday night in Los Angeles.
  • New York sends Carlos Carrasco to the mound against LA's Walker Buehler.
  • Michael Arinze previews the matchup and makes his betting pick below.

Mets vs. Dodgers Odds

Mets Odds+215
Dodgers Odds-265
Over/Under8.5 (-105 / -115)
Time10:10 p.m. ET
TVMLB Network
Odds as of Friday morning and via DraftKings.

The New York Mets are in absolute free fall. They've lost six of their last 21 games and have now dropped to one game below .500 (60-61) and five games out of first place.

New York's schedule since August 6th has been ruthless, with three games against the Phillies, three with the Nationals, and a seven-game home-and-home series with both the Dodgers and the Giants. The odds were always against the Mets to come out of this stretch intact, and their recent form shows they haven't been able to overcome it.

After a 4-1 loss to the Dodgers in Los Angeles, New York will try to bounce back on Friday with Carlos Carrasco on the mound. Walker Buehler will oppose Carrasco for Los Angeles. While the Dodgers are undefeated in Buehler's three career starts against the Mets, one could argue that neither victory was all that convincing since they all finished as one-run games. As for Carrasco, his last start was actually against the Dodgers, and he allowed six runs and three home runs in just two innings.

Los Angeles is as high as a -265 favorite on Friday, so we'll need to be creative in finding how to approach this game.

Mets Need More From Carrasco

This season will be one that Carrasco would like to forget. The Mets' right-hander tore his hamstring doing routine spring training drills. That occurred just seven days after he was diagnosed with a sore elbow. Following both setbacks, Cararaso didn't make his season debut until July 30th.

Carrasco hasn't completed five innings in his four starts this season. He comes into this matchup with an 0-1 record, a 10.32 ERA, and a 1.85 WHIP. While his season numbers dropped precipitously after his recent start against the Dodgers, the truth is that he had a 6.75 ERA before that outing. And even though his advanced numbers point to some positive regression, there still isn't much that's promising about a pitcher with a 5.74 xERA and 7.59 FIP.

Because Carrasco's made only four starts, his overall numbers are greatly influenced by his poor outing against the Dodgers. For example, he has a 41.7% HR/FB rate. Three of his five home runs allowed this season occurred in that start against Los Angeles. If you put the home runs aside, there are some positive takeaways, such as his 9.53 K/9 and 2.38 BB/9 ratios.

Oftentimes, when a pitcher struggles, it makes sense to check for a dip in velocity. While Carrasco's fastball dropped slightly from 93.9 to 93.5 mph, that's not enough to cause a major concern.

Instead, what I've found is that he's pitching from behind more than ever. He's only throwing first-pitch strikes 56.4% of the time, which is the second-lowest of his career. In fact, it's the first time in the last nine seasons that he's been below 60% in this statistic. That means that Carrasco is often behind the hitters he's facing, which forces him to pitch inside the zone more often.

Opposing hitters have certainly taken notice as they're swinging at 73.6% of his pitches inside the strike zone. This is the first time in his 12-year career that he's been over 70% in this category. That tells me that the hitters are in control, and they're more likely to have the upper hand once they step into the batter's box.

Buehler Looks To Continue Dominance

Very few pitchers have been as dominant as Buehler since he entered the league in 2017. The right-hander is 36-11 in his career with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. This season, he's 12-2 with a 2.09 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. While his 3.04 xERA and 3.13 FIP point to some regression, Buehler would still be atop the league even with those numbers.

What sets him apart is his ability to have command of six different pitches: a four-seamer (46.1%), a cutter (15.8%), a curveball (13.9%), a slider (13.9%), a sinker (7.3%), and a changeup (3.1%). The highest batting average opposing hitters have against either one of those pitches is .221. Buehler also exhibits great control, as evidenced by his 2.39 BB/9 ratio. However, the biggest improvement might be his ability to cut down on his home runs allowed. This season, his HR/FB rate of 9.5% marks the first time he's been under 10% in his career.

As good as Buehler's been, he's looked somewhat pedestrian in his three starts against the Mets. I mentioned earlier that the Dodgers are 3-0 in those outings, but the Kentucky native didn't factor in those decisions. He's 0-0 with a 4.24 ERA with a combined 17 innings in those outings.

He'll face a Mets lineup that has a .245/.317/.453 line with a .208 ISO in 53 at-bats against him. In fact, three of New York's 13 hits were home runs, and we know that all three of Buehler's starts were decided by a one-run margin. Thus, simply fading the Mets blindly on the run line when Buehler's on the mound hasn't been a winning strategy.

If we look at the Dodgers' lineup, they have a .286 /.324/.629 line against Carrasco with a .343 ISO. That success, coupled with his poor form, is certainly one way to look to get involved in this matchup.

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Mets-Dodgers Pick

I'm not sure who ultimately has the advantage with Carrasco facing Los Angeles for the second time in less than a week. I'm more confident that his inability to pitch deep into games is problematic for the Mets' bullpen against this Dodgers lineup.

Opponents have scored at least five runs in three of Carrasco's four starts this season. The one occasion when this didn't occur was when the Mets were on the road against a light-hitting Marlins team.

While my model projects a total of 8.44, it's more bullish on the Dodgers scoring the bulk of the runs. And with the Dodgers' team total set at 4.5, I like their chances to go over this mark on Friday night.

Pick: Dodgers Team Total Over 4.5 (-140)

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