New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs Preview and Pick

New York Mets (10-7) – John Maine +125, 8.5 O/U at Chicago Cubs (12-6) – Carlos Zambrano -135, 8.5 O/U, Wrigley Field, 7:05 PM EST, Monday
by Badger of

The Chicago Cubs welcome the New York Mets to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field on Monday for the first game of a quick two-game series, when staff ace Carlos Zambrano matches up against the Mets John Maine in a game to be shown on ESPN.

The Cubs will be looking to continue their winning ways, as they destroyed Pittsburgh pitching over the weekend in a three-game sweep of the Pirates. The Cubs scored 13 runs in both Saturdays and Sundays games versus the Pirates and scored 29 in total in the three- game set.

The Mets meanwhile come into the Windy City with a good vibe in the clubhouse after taking two out of three over the weekend on the road in Philadelphia. The Mets lost Sunday, 5-4, to snap what was a season- high five-game winning streak.

Offshore Sportsbooks opened the game with the Cubs as -135 favorites on the moneyline, with the Mets listed at +125. The over/under total is currently listed at 8.5.

The Cubs offense is hitting on all cylinders right now. Not only did they smash 39 hits in the three-game series versus the Pirates, but they also drew 19 walks. And their 13-run, 18-hit assault on Sunday was done without rookie sensation Kosuke Fukudome, who sat out the game with a cyst above his right eye. Fukudome is expected to be back in the lineup tonight.

The Mets offense lately has been the David Wright show. The young third baseman is hitting .471 (16-for-34) in his last nine games with 3 homeruns and 12 RBIs. In the three-game set with the Phillies over the weekend Wright was nearly perfect, going 8-for-11 with four doubles, a triple and four RBIs.

Something will give tonight though, as Wright is just 2-for-11 with four strikeouts versus Zambrano. Zambrano is also enjoying all of the Cubs games in Wrigley to start the season, as the right-hander is already 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his three starts at home this season. Zambrano is also historically strong versus the Mets, going 3-1 with a 3.41 ERA versus them in five starts dating back to 2005.

The Mets hope Maine can continue his strong start in 2008, as Maine is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA so far. Maine, however, has struggled versus the Cubbies in his career, losing both times his faced them last season with a whopping 10.57 ERA.

The Mets won five of their seven meetings versus the Cubs last year, including two of three at Wrigley. As stated earlier though, both of those losses were tagged on Maine.

The one betting trend that jumps out at you when these two teams go head-to-head is the over. The over cashed in at the window in all but one game last season (one push), and is 10-1-1 in the last 12 meetings. The over has also been a good bet when the Mets go on the road (11-4 in the last 15 road games) as a listed underdog (9-4-2 in last 15 as underdogs).

Despites Maines problems last season versus the Cubs, the Mets are 15-7 in his last 22 road starts.

The Cubs have won six of their last seven, and with an offense clicking right now the over has also won in six of their last seven games.

Badgers Pick: Maine has had some struggles finding the plate so far this season (12 walks in 16.2 innings), which will not be good versus the red-hot Cubs. The Mets are also coming off of a night game, followed by a plane ride from Philly to Chicago, while the Cubs played during the day yesterday and will be well rested. All of that adds up to advantage Cubs in my book. Take Zambrano and the Cubs at the -135 price.