New York Mets (Johan Santana) vs. Florida Marlins (Josh Johnson) Preview and Pick – Betting Line

New York Mets (18-16) Johan Santana, at Florida Marlins (16-18)
Josh Johnson, Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla., 7:10 PM EST,
Thursday, May 13th, 2010

by Badger of

Betting Line: Mets +115/Marlins -125
Total: 7.5

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With a large portion of the Major League schedule on Thursday already
over, theres no doubt most baseball fans will be watching the New
York Mets
and the Florida Marlins kick off the start of their key NL
East four-game series in Dolphins Stadium, er, Pro Player Stadium,
er, LandShark Stadium oh wait, its Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.

But the game doesnt need the extra spotlight because it features an
intriguing duel of smoke-throwing pitchers when the Mets start former
Cy Young winner Johan Santana against the Marlins young ace and
notorious Met-killer Josh Johnson.

New York will need Santana to be his Cy Young self because they enter
the four-game set as losers of three of their last four games and
seven of their last 11, including yesterdays 6-4 decision to the
Nationals in the rubber match game of their series. But dont be
fooled, if not for a rare 6-run explosion in the 8th inning of game
two against a tired Nats bullpen for a come-from-behind 8-6 win, the
Mets would have been swept as their starting pitching is beginning to

The Marlins came up one game short of the three-game sweep in Wrigley Field yesterday, losing to the Cubs 4-3, but they did finish their
six-game road trip with a split 3-3 record. Now the Marlins must
focus on winning games at home in Sun Life Stadium, as they are just
7-9 there this season and were swept by San Francisco in the last
series in Miami.

Oddsmakers are giving Johnson and the Marlins a lot of respect here,
releasing the overnight line with the home team as -135 favorites on
the moneyline. The number has come down to -130 or even -125 after
early betting, but that means the Mets are enticing +115 underdogs on
the dimeline, which is rare indeed in any game Santana toes the rubber.

The over/under total opened at 7.5 and is still listed at that number
at a majority of sportsbooks on the Web, but there are a few offshore
sportsbooks that have dropped the total to 7 with extra juice on the

These two pitchers were the same two that started when the Mets and
Marlins played on Opening Day, with Santana getting the best of
Johnson that day, 7-1. But the main reason that it becomes so
significant that I mention it right away when handicapping this game
is because it was the first and only time the Mets have beaten
Johnson, as the righty is 7-1 in 10 starts against the Mets with
filthy splits to boot (2.69 ERA, 1.142 WHIP, .298 OBP, .621 OPS). The
Marlins were 4-0 in Johnsons starts against the Mets in 2009, but he
was tagged for four runs on five hits (5 IP) on Opening Day so maybe
the Mets have finally solved him.

Thats sort of been the theme for Johnson this year since hes been
knocked around a little bit more this season than in the past. David
Wright took him deep on Opening Day, and Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur
had good days too. In fact, Bay and Francoeur hit a combined .381
with 3 doubles and triple and three RBIs in the opening series
against the Marlins, so theyll have to a little more cautious with
those three tonight.

Santana had one gigantic hiccup two starts ago against the Phillies
(8 H, 10 R in 3.2 IP), but otherwise has been the rock in the Mets

His numbers against the Marlins are nearly as impressive as Johnsons
versus the Mets, if not more impressive, as he is 6-1 in eight starts
with a 1.66 ERA and splits that are Cy Young like (0.939 WHIP, .241
OBP, .534 OPS). Whats harder to believe is that Santana is actually
BETTER in what is now know as Sun Life Stadium too, with an 0/75
WHIP, a .208 on-base percentage and a .472 OPS, which is so low that
runners are nearly going in reverse against him.

The Mets also need Santana go deep into the game tonight, since the
Mets bullpen has used four relievers every night for the past four
games and theyve had to eat over 15 innings during that span.

Last year these teams split the eight games in Miami, 4-4, with the
over going 5-3 in those eight games.

Last year Johnson won both of his duels with Santana, 2-1, at home in
Miami in early April and, 4-3, later in the month at Citi Field,
cashing the under bet in both games.

Badgers Pick: At first glance Id jump all over Santana as a dog
against anybody, but looking at the way the Mets are playing and the
fact that Johnson is better at home (3-0 this year) than on the road
and stellar versus the Mets scares me enough to lay off. Ill take my
chances on the under.