By Sam Bush

Pitching match-ups are the sizzle on the steak of a MLB great rivalry.

They are also the best way to bet.

But unfortunately, the Mets-Phillies rivalry, which was rich with venom when both teams were at the top of the NFC East, is now pretty thin.

But that doesn’t detract from tonights Matt Harvey-Cole Hamels (photo above) match-up as the Mets and Phillies begin a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.

It’s been a tale of two seasons for the two aces, and the same could be said of their teams.

Harvey has a 2.41 ERA and is tied for the major league lead in wins, with five, whereas Hamels has struggled to a 1-3 record and 4.14 ERA.

New York enters the weekend still the surprise of the National League, with a healthy lead in the division. The Phillies enter the series in last place, 8 1/2 games behind the Mets.

Harvey has struck out 8.5 batters for every walk, and he’s a big reason the Mets have allowed the fewest free passes in the Majors. Phillies pitchers, on the other hand, have surrendered the most walks.

Hamels went through a similar early slump last season, going 1-2 with a 4.30 ERA over his first six starts in 2014. He finished the season with a 2.46 ERA.

Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is expected back in the lineup after sitting the last two games in an attempt to clear his mind and reset. Utley is hitting .103 through 87 at-bats. With Thursday’s off-day, Utley will have three consecutive days away from the game.

New York swept the first series between these two teams, with Harvey earning one of the wins. Hamels did not pitch in that series.

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