National League blue bloods collide to start MLB’s second half, as the Los Angeles Dodgers kick off their East Coast swing with a weekend series against the New York Mets. First pitch of Friday’s opener is set for 7:05 p.m. ET at Citi Field. Julio Urias (6-5, 4.76 ERA) will start for L.A., while Justin Verlander (3-4, 3.60) gets the ball for New York.
The Dodgers enter as narrow -120 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Mets at +100. The run total is set at 8.5.
Dodgers-Mets picks: Friday, July 14
Los Angeles Dodgers
Out: SP Clayton Kershaw (shoulder), UTIL Chris Taylor (knee), SP Noah Syndergaard (finger), RP Shelby Miller (neck), RP Daniel Hudson (knee),
New York Mets
Day to day: OF Tommy Pham (groin)
Out: SP Jose Quintana (ribs), RP Edwin Uceta (knee), OF Tim Locastro (thumb)
Julio Urias vs. Justin Verlander
Urias has had bit of a bumpy season between injuries and inconsistency, but he looked like his old self in his last start before the All-Star break, striking out eight in six innings of two-run ball against the Pittsburgh Pirates. His command hasn’t been as sharp as we’re used to seeing — he’s allowed five or more runs four times this season — and the Dodgers will likely still have him on something of a pitch count in his second start back from a lengthy IL stint, but when he’s on, he’s still among the best starters in the game.
Verlander got off to a rough start after returning from a shoulder injury in May, but he’s been locked in since, pitching to a 2.70 ERA over seven starts since the start of June. At age 40, he’s not the same overwhelming strikeout pitcher we’ve grown accustomed to — his fastball velocity is down a tick, and he’s not earning as many whiffs on just about all of his pitches — but he’s still rock-solid, with a four-pitch arsenal, excellent command and the ability to work deep into games. Verlander has allowed just two runs and 15 hits over 18 innings across his last three outings.
These two lineups rank second and third in wRC+ since the start of July, but I’m still backing the under on Friday night. Verlander has been on a roll lately, allowing more than two runs just twice over the last month and a half. Urias, meanwhile, figures to get sharper and sharper the more innings he gets under his belt after his hamstring injury. Both offenses, but especially the Mets, have made a habit of disappearing at times throughout the year, and with two premium arms on the mound, I’m expecting a low-scoring affair.
Pick: Under 8.5
And in that low-scoring affair, the margins — base-running, the bullpens, etc. — become even more important, which is where the Dodgers have the edge. I trust L.A.’s late-inning options much more than New York’s, and I trust their lineup to get a big hit late and pick up a series-opening win.