Chicago Cubs (Randy Wells) vs. New York Mets (Jonathon Niese) Preview and Pick – Betting Line

Chicago Cubs (5-7) Randy Wells, at New York Mets (4-8) Jonathon
Niese, Citi Field, Queens, N.Y., 7:10 PM EST, Monday, April 19th, 2010

by Badger of

Betting Line: Cubs -125/Mets +115
Total: 8.5

Two of Major League Baseballs most popular big market teams get
together for the first time in 2010 when the Chicago Cubs travel to
Citi Field in Queens NY to take on the New York Mets for the start of a
four-game series Monday.

Two young hurlers will kick off the action on the bump, as the Cubs
send second-year right-hander Randy Wells against Mets rookie lefty
Jonathon Niese in the opener that will be shown on ESPN.

Both teams come into the series scuffling, so it should be
interesting to see which team rebounds faster.

The Cubs lost two of three over the weekend at Wrigley Field to the
lowly Houston Astros, including yesterdays 3-2 loss in 10 innings.
Sundays stinker finished the Cubs short homestand at 3-3 and dropped
them two games below .500. Now the Cubs travel to Citi Field where
they dropped two of three in their first and only appearance at the
Mets new stadium last season.

The Mets also dropped two of three over the weekend to the St. Louis
Cardinals, including Sundays 5-3 decision to Adam Wainwright on
ESPN. The Mets finished their 6-game road trip at 2-4, with one of
the victories coming in Saturdays epic 20-inning, 7-hour marathon
win over the Cards, 2-1.

Oddsmakers opened the overnight line with the Cubs and Wells as
rather large -140 road favorites on the moneyline, but the early
steam at the window has dropped the betting line to Cubs -125 to -120
at most offshore sportsbooks on the Web. If you bet on a dime line
you can get Niese and the Mets at a nice +115 underdog rate, but some
books are down to as low at +105 for the Mets.

The over/under total opened at 8.5 and has yet to move, although you
will have to pay a little larger odds (-115 to -120) if you want the
over in this game.

With the two youngsters toeing the rubber tonight theres little to no history between them and their opponents, as both pitchers have
only one start against the other team in the game.

Wells pitched very well in his lone appearance against the Mets,
going six innings and allowing just two runs on seven hits, but he
was outdueled by Michael Pelfrey in a 4-2 loss last September. The
good news for Wells is the player who hurt him the most in that game,
first baseman Dan Murphy and his two-run homerun, is on the DL right
now and wont play.

Wells has pitched well so far this season too, although his WHIP (1.54) and opponents on-base percentage (.365) are a little high.
The Cubs have won both of his starts in 2010 so far, even though the
righty is just 1-0 to show for it.

Niese would like to forget his late September start against the Cubs
back in 2008, as he was tattooed for six runs on seven hits in just
three short innings of a 9-5 loss. Niese will have to limit the
damage caused by the Cubs No. 3 and No. 4 hitters in the lineup,
Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, who accounted for three hits and a
homerun (Lee). Leadoff hitter Ryan Theriot was also perfect against
Niese, going 3-for-3 with two walks and a run.

Niese hasnt been terrible in his first two outings, but he hasnt
been great either. He took the loss in his first start against
Florida even though he went six innings and only gave up three runs
(8 hits in 3-1 loss), but his last outing versus Colorado in Coors
was one to forget (5 IP, 9 H, 5 R). All told, his OBP (.407) and WHIP
(1.82) are extremely high and the lefty must turn things around if he
wants to keep his spot in the rotation.

The Mets won two of three in Citi against the Cubs last year, and
true to Citi Field form all three games came in under the total (one
of the games was taken off the board due to a spot start by Bobby
Parnell, but the Mets won 6-2 and it would have likely fallen under
the total too).

In fact, the Cubs have had their troubles in the city that never
sleeps because they are 6-13 in their last 19 games in New York.
However, the Mets are just 2-4 at home in Citi this season.

Badgers Pick: With neither team playing all that well right now, I
have to go with the known commodity in Wells and the Cubs here at
-125, even though Im not thrilled about it. Both pitchers will enjoy
pitching in spacious Citi Field too, so the under of 8.5 is a good
bet as well.