Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Max Scherzer
Betting odds: Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets, 7:10 p.m. ET
- Nationals (Max Scherzer): -206
- Mets (Steven Matz): +186
- Over/under: 7
There was an interesting argument between the media and Mets fans before the year. The Mets’ win total was set right around 81, and a lot of reporters were saying that was too low, considering their starting pitching talent. Mets fans couldn’t have felt more differently, saying there was no way the team could do that well.
The lesson: Always trust pessimistic Mets fans. They’ll be right more often than not.
In Thursday’s game, there’s plenty of reason to be pessimistic too, with the short-handed Mets a big underdog to Scherzer despite being at home.
Despite Scherzer’s record and reputation as one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, he’s in the middle of a bit of a rocky patch (for him): four runs in seven innings in his last start, three runs in six innings in his previous start.
His xFIP also suggests that the incredible success he has enjoyed this season is likely to regress a little bit.
My point, really, is just that Scherzer has been far from unhittable. Helping the Mets, oddly enough, in this situation, is that their injured stars have been awful against Scherzer: Yoenis Cespedes is 3-for-17 and Todd Frazier is 0-for-8. Won’t be missing them here.
Meanwhile, recent addition Jose Bautista, who has seemingly played for every team this year, has had incredible success against Scherzer — 9-for-20 with an OPS over 1.300. You’ll most likely see his name near the top of the order.
Like Scherzer, Matz also may be headed for a bit of a regression: His 4.24 xFIP is nearly a point higher than his ERA (3.31). It’s not an exact science, but when I see that in both opposing starters, I take notice.
The Mets have also done a pretty good job giving Matz run support in his starts, scoring three or more runs in 12 of 17 starts (and keep in mind, this has been a pretty inept offense).
Take all of those things, and throw in some recency bias, with the Mets in a 0-0 game going to the ninth inning just last night, and I’m on the over here.
It should be a beautiful night for baseball at Citi Field for the few who will attend, with temperatures in the low 80s. Seems like over weather to me!
One other positive is that this bet is contrarian in nature. It’s Scherzer facing a team with half its players on the DL and an offense that couldn’t score until extra innings the night before. How could this ever go over? Nearly 60% of the early betting tickets are on the under. We’ll call that an added bonus.
The Bet: Over 7 (-110)
Editor’s note: The opinion on this game is from the individual writer and is based on his research, analysis and perspective. It is independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.