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July 24, 2015 (Posted at 5:00 PM ET)

Picks will be posted at 3:00 PM ET on Saturday.

Take NY Mets (-102) on the Money Line against LA Dodgers risking 3% of the bankroll. 
(Niese and Thomas must start for wager to have action)

The New York Mets are catching a break tonight as Zack Greinke was a late scratch and travelled back to LA to be with his expectant wife for the birth of their first child. The Mets will want to take advantage of not having to face the All-Star starter who leads the Majors with an outstanding 1.3 ERA! Greinke and Kershaw have been a devastating one-two punch for the Dodgers as expected and for NY team that has struggled offensively, this is their chance to put some hits together.

The Dodgers will send Ian Thomas to the hill in what will be his first Major League start! Thomas is a relief pitcher and has had limited experience as a starter even at the minor league level. There is a huge difference between being a relief pitcher and a starting one. Relievers are taught to throw hard and throw strikes since their job is to create quick outs. There is a reason why they only last an inning or two as that style does not bode well over the long haul. Thomas has made a few relief appearances for the Dodgers since being traded from Atlanta in the Juan Uribe deal and hasn't done well even as a reliever. As a starter, he had a poor 5.5 ERA in five minor league starts for Oklahoma City this year! He's not ready for this level but has been forced to make spot start on short notice and we believe will be out of his depth. The Mets should be able to get men on base and if the next batter up doesn't hit ground into double-plays, they will cross home plate several times. 

Having faced Kershaw last night and being shutout, we expect the Mets batting order to be salivating at the chance to hit the rookie tonight. This will be a completely different quality that they're facing tonight and even Mets' anemic offense should have success against the southpaw. Terry Collins has also promoted top prospect Michael Conforto and he should start at LF instead of Michael Cuddyer tonight! The powerful lefty has been patient at the plate in his minor league appearances and may just provide this offense some much needed spark. Catcher Kevin Plawecki and 3rd baseman Daniel Murphy were given the day off yesterday but will be back rested and ready to go tonight. 

The Mets should have the pitching advantage in this contest with veteran Jon Niese taking the mound. Niese has been pitching extremely well lately and owns a 2-0 record with a 1.21 ERA in his last 3 starts! He has also has quite a bit of success against the Dodgers in his career going 2-1 with a 3.79 ERA in 6 career appearances against LA. The Dodgers offense hasn't exactly been prolific as of late and as a team they fare much better at home than on the road. Yasiel Puig is hitless in his career against Niese going 0 for 6 while Adrian Gonzalez is doubtful to feature in this game which takes a big bat out of their lineup. Niese deserves a better record than 5-8 given how consistent he has been this season and we believe he'll be given proper run support tonight as the Mets win and he improves to 6-8. This ball club needs this win more so than the division leading Dodgers as they don't want to risk falling further behind the Nationals or in the Wild Card chase. It's worth mentioning that they have been a very solid team at home this season and have excelled as short underdogs and favorites.  

The Mets struggled not only because of the excellent Kershaw but also because last night was their first game back at home after a challenging road trip. Having a game under their belt back in their comfort zone, we expect them to perform much better in front of their home crowd at CitiField tonight. The Mets started the season off in surprising fashion but have tailed off recently. This was a team that is in danger of falling out of postseason contention and is hungry for a win! This is the type of games that they must win. They can ill afford to drop a contest against a team that is starting a rookie reliever on the road. We expect a concentrated effort from them and believe they should be -125 favorites in this contest. Given that the price is much cheaper and they are in fact, at the time of writing, slight underdogs, there is definite value on the home side. 

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Mets are 32-15 at Citi Field this season.
  • Niese has held the Dodgers to an ugly .198 batting average in his career!
  • Dodgers are just 5-9 after shutting out their opponents in the previous game.
  • Mets are 14-2 in home games against teams that are averaging less than 0.5 errors per game!

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