New York Mets +168 at Philadelphia Phillies -178
John Niese (2-1, 4.08 ERA) vs. Roy Halliday (3-2, 3.40 ERA)
The last-place Phillies begin a three game homestand that could be their first step towards climbing out of the NL East basement. And there’s no better way to start a series than with ace Roy Halliday on the hill at home.
The Mets have been a pleasant surprise at 15-13, but the record might be a bit of a mirage. They own the second-worst run differential in the National League at -28. That’s a nice round average of giving up exactly one more run per game than they score. If you buy into the expected win statistic, which generally proves reasonably reliable after 162 games, the Mets performance should have translated into an 11-17 mark. So – for what it’s worth, viewing tonight’s game through the prism of the Mets playing better baseball right now would be a bit disingenuous.
Roy Halliday is about as automatic as any pitcher in baseball, and has been for the past eight seasons. That is what made last week’s outing against Atlanta so surprising. “Doc” had one of the worst outings of his major league career, allowing eight runs and surrendering twelve hits in just 5 1/3 innings of work. Rather than be alarmed, I am exciting to throw some money Philly’s way tonight; when is the last time Halliday had two poor outings in a row?!? I can’t recall either…
Much of Philly slow start is easily attributable to the absence of injured stars Utley and Howard, but over the last week, the offense has come to life. They have tallied 40 runs in their past seven games, good for an average of 5.8 runs a contest. With the lights-out starting pitching staff, even with the inury to Cliff Lee, that should be enough runs to get the Fightin’ Phills back on the plus-side of .500.
Tonight’s line is a pretty steep price to pay if you like the Phillies. It opened at -200, and at the time of writing has dropped somewhat to -180, but still a pretty decent price to pay. However, if you are feeling adventurous, you can get one of the fairer -1.5 runline odds I’ve seen in a while at +120. If you subscribe to the thought process that Halliday bounces back with a vengeance tonight (and I do), and you look at the recent offensive output of the Phillies, laying a few runs is no big deal. I’m banking on Halliday tonight, and am excited to get a little more bang for my buck.
Free Pick: Philadelphia Phillies -1.5 (+120)