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The second half of MLB season has arrived, and this is when we start to find out which teams are the true contenders. The Dodgers are in a year where they didn’t surpass the luxury tax, lost their starting shortstop Gavin Lux in spring training, and they’re still 51-38. Dave Roberts’ team continues to impress, despite being in a dogfight in the National League West this season.
The Mets are trying to find their groove in 2023, and they were hot towards the end of the first half. Yet, they collapsed last weekend, dropping a series to the Padres. It will be difficult for them to get back on track this weekend, with the Dodgers coming to Citi Field. Julio Urias will pitch for the Dodgers against Justin Verlander of the Mets. The first pitch between these National League foes from Queens is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
The Dodgers are leaps and bounds better than the Mets. New York has talent and a higher payroll, but they haven’t been able to fit the pieces of the puzzle together in 2023. New York shouldn’t be six games below .500 after 90 contests, and this directly falls back on manager Buck Showalter. There is talk that Showalter will lose his job if he can’t turn around his team in the second half, and starting with the Dodgers isn’t an easy way to find momentum. However, Justin Verlander will look to deliver a win to open the series on Friday night.
Verlander will pitch against Julio Urias, who has posted comparable numbers. Urias has the ability to shove his counterpart just like the reigning Cy Young winner does for New York. If Urias is decent, Los Angeles should pick up a win on Friday. The Mets offense hasn’t found a rhythm like the Dodgers, and runs win games. If any team can neutralize Verlander, it’s Los Angeles.
Verlander won the Cy Young award last season in Houston, but he hasn’t come close to matching his 2022 dominance. Verlander can still pitch like one of the best wings in baseball on any given night, but he hasn’t been consistent against quality opponents. The pitcher is 3-4 with a 3.6 ERA and a 1.2 WHIP. It’s obvious that we should see some regression with Verlander because of his age, but the drop-off from last season is significant. Verlander has been better than Urias in 2023, but not by much. His ERA is over one point higher, but Urias’ WHIP is stronger than Verlander’s number.
The biggest decline for Verlander has been in his strikeout numbers, and it’s why the Dodgers have the upper hand. The pitcher has just 57 strikeouts in 70 innings work. Urias is hovering around nine K/9 which gives us confidence he can shut down the Mets. New York has scored 89 fewer runs than Los Angeles, and a big reason for this is the power gap. Outside of Pete Alonso, the Mets have struggled to go yard. Alonso has 26 homers and 61 RBI, but the Dodgers have a more well-rounded lineup behind Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts.
Los Angeles has blasted 149 homers compared to New York with 114. Look for a few big swings for the Dodgers to make a difference in this spot.
Los Angeles has continued to post dominant seasons. It’s never a bad bet taking the Dodgers to win the National League because they’re consistently one of the final teams standing. Los Angeles will either be in the playoffs as the National League West champion or as a Wild Card team. The likely option is that they pull away in the division race in the second half. The one thing they need to work on is winning on the road.
Los Angeles has struggled on the road with a .500 record. The Dodgers are judged harder than any other team, and to win in the postseason, they must solidify their ability to prevail on the road. Look for this record to improve in the second half as Los Angeles finds a groove and possibly makes a few big moves at the deadline.
The Mets are built around Pete Alonso on offense, but this hasn’t generated a record over .500. New York ended the first half stronger than they began the season, but their performance isn’t good enough to make the playoffs. Showalter needs to inspire his team because the group looks largely disinterested in 2023. Alonso must keep his dominant season going, but the remainder of the team must rise to the occasion. The Mets have been blowing leads all season, and this can’t happen for any club, let alone with a substantial payroll.
To give some perspective on the Mets, Brandon Nimmo leads the team in batting average at .266. This isn’t going to cut it in a division like the NL East that includes the Braves and the defending National League champs, the Philadelphia Phillies. The All-Star break was needed for New York, and they have the team to make the playoffs. The Dodgers series will tell a lot about this team moving forward.
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Tanner Kern has been working in the betting industry since 2020. He currently is a social media content creator at DraftKings and contributes to multiple sites in addition to WSN, including Forbes and VSiN. He is also the cohost of the podcast Ride the Line at WSN.More info on Tanner Kern
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