8:00 PM EST, ESPN – Money Line: Dodgers -170, Run Line: 9.5 under 20
A pair of teams at very different ends of the National League collide tonight at Citi Field, as the New York Mets host the Los Angeles Dodgers in the final installment of their three-game series. At this point it’s become hyperbole, but you would be hard-pressed to find a team in the Majors hotter than the Dodgers (78-32, 1st in NL West), who as winners of twenty-two of their last twenty-five are on a historic tear in which they’ve become the third team in history to reach the 75-win plateau so quickly, the others being the 1998 New Yoek Yankees and the 2000 Seattle Mariners. Granted, time will tell what that means in regards to their Postaeason hopes, for the former of that pair went on to win the World Series while the other burned out in the First Round. It’s hardly a surprise that they’ve flexed their muscles on the struggling Mets, which was the case in last night’s 7-4 victory in the Big Apple. After falling behind by three runs early, the visiting Dodgers got back into the thick of things courtesy of none other than Cody Bellinger (.264 BA, 30 HR, 71 RBI), continued his torrid pace, erasing the deficit with the swing of a bit with a three-run homer. From there, the flood gates opened, as Yasiel Puig (.259 BA, 20 HR, 53 RBI), Justin Turner (.346 BA, 11 HR, 43 RBI), and Corey Seager (.307 BA, 18 HR, 53 RBI) all got into the act with homers of their own, stretching the lead to four in a matter of innings. From the mound, Rich Hill (8-4, 3.35 ERA) was shaky early, but ended up settling down with eight strikeouts in comparison to one walk, with three runs allowed on six hits over five innings of labor, before the Bullpen completely shut the hosts down the rest of the way. Taking the mound tonight for Roberts and Co. is Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-6, 3.83 ERA), who will be looking for his first victory in five starts. it’s not that the South Korean International has performed poorly over this stretch, it’s just that he’s been unfortunate to register a proper decision. In fact, despite starting fifteen games this season, the Lefthander has only earned nine decisions, which would explain his rather lackluster 3-6 record thus far. However, don’t be fooled by those numbers, for the 30-year old veteran has been a solid contributor in the Dodgers’ Rotation, even though the addition of Yu Darvish (1-0, 0.00 ERA) has further dropped him down the pecking order. On the year, Ryu has posted a stellar stat line with a 1.370 WHIP, while averaging 8.6 Strikeouts per Nine Innings, and logging a respectable 3.12 K/BB. With perennial Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw (15-2, 2.04 ERA) languishing on the Disabled List with a Back Injury, now is the time for this guy make an impression. However, he’s also dealt with injuries of his own, having just recently returned after suffering a foot contusion that sidelined him for nearly a month’s time. Fortunately for Los Angeles, he’s been very sharp since his return; in last week’s 3-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants, Ryu tossed seven scoreless innings permitting five hits and striking out seven batters in comparison to a lone walk. From 2014 to 2016, the Lefty has faced the Mets just once, pitching a strong six innings striking out nine opponents and walking one, while yielding a pair of earned runs on nine hits at Citi Field.
Meanwhile, hot is not the word to be associated with the Mets (49-59, 4th in NL East), who have seemingly thrown in the towel after partially dismantling their roster at the Trade Deadline. Terry Collins’ outfit were certainly sellers at last week’s Deadline, shipping away a number of contributors for mostly prospects. Then again, that’s what happens when you’ve lost nine out of your last thirteen, and are over a dozen games out of First Place thanks in large part to a decimated Starting Rotation, which was supposed to be the team’s strength heading into the season. That was the case in last night’s loss, as the Staff completely collapsed after performing rather well in the early stages. As mentioned earlier, Seth Lugo (5-3, 4.53 ERA) and Paul Sewald (0-3, 4.00 ERA) gave up a combined five runs in the span of just a few innings, before Fernando Salas (1-2, 5.77 ERA) gave up another couple of homers in his 1.1 innings of work. Taking the mound tonight for Collins and Co. is Steven Matz (2-4, 5.50 ERA), who like his counterpart on the bump, has seen a great deal of time pass without recording a victory. The young Lefthander hasn’t enjoyed a win since June 28th, losing three out of his last six starts. Consistency has been a big problem for the talented 26-year old, who at times this season has worn the look of the next great Mets starter, while in others he has appeared as yet another fledgling arm struggling to make an impact. Matz hasn’t lasted longer than five innings in five consecutive starts, while yielding at least three runs in each outing. Most recently, he found himself on the wrong end of a 5-4 loss against the Colorado Rockies, allowing three earned runs on six hits, including a home run, while walking as many batters (two) as he struck out. Things started off strongly at Coors Field, but ultimately spiraled out of control in the Sixth Inning, permitting a Single and then a Double, before serving up a three-run homer, followed by yet another Double which would ultimately send him to the Clubhouse. Thus far, Matz has found it increasingly more difficult to strike out opposing hitters, averaging a meager 6.2 Strikeouts per Nine Innings, all the while being hit up for a miserable 11.4 Hits per Nine Innings. In a year in which New York’s Rotation have been absolutely ravaged by injuries, it’s disappointing that the Lefty has been unable to take the next step in his development. With that said, he’s had quite the showing against the Dodgers in his brief career, posting a 1.50 ERA in two starts (both victories), allowing just two runs on eight hits, with thirteen strikeouts and three walks over a dozen innings of labor, as Los Angeles hitters have batted a dreadful .186 against him.