Although the Braves have masqueraded as a playoff contender for most of the season, a recent September swoon has revealed what a middling run differential has known all along: The Braves aren't that much better than the Mets.
The lineup still has a lot of sexy names in it, but the truth for Atlanta is that some of their best players are much better at run prevention than run production. Platinum Glove candidate Andrelton Simmons is hitting just .243/.285/.333 for the season with B.J. Upton also playing regularly with a .207/.282/.329 line. The mysteriously powerless Jason Heyward has been a tremendous defender, but his slugging percentage of just .387 (.115 ISO) make him unfit to be the team's third-best offensive starter.
An already lame offense got even worse during this past month, and the result is a Braves team that has scored 40 fewer runs than our Mets in 2014. And I probably don't have to tell you that the Mets aren't an offensive powerhourse.
Dan Simpson at Talking Chop does a great job of diagnosing his team's struggles at the plate. Compared to 2013, the Braves are hitting more ground balls and walking less often while still striking out a ton. The solution could be to fire manager Fredi Gonzalez and hitting coach Greg Walker.
Who's on the mound?
Mike Minor has had a pretty miserable 2014. Even though his strikeout-to-walk ratio is around 3:1, a 1.44 WHIP and a lot of hard contact have made Minor's season tough to endure. His last start against the Mets, however, was pretty darn impressive.
That was back on August 28, one of Minor's most efficient outings of the season. It was one of only three Minor starts in which he walked zero batters, and the lefty needed just 98 pitches to finish seven innings against the Mets. Our boys need to do a better job adjusting to Minor's breaking ball this time around. He'll take the mound on Saturday night opposite Jon Niese.
Julio Teheran will start on Friday, and while he was plenty effective in his last start against the Mets, it was really this incredible play by Simmons that got Atlanta the win.
It's still heartbreaking. Although Teheran allowed just five Mets to reach base in 6.1 innings that night, the orange and blue managed to get on the board with a Wilmer Flores blast.
Considering how hot Flores is right now at the plate, it wouldn't be surprising to see him take Teheran deep again. Although the Mets' offense has struggled mightily in two out of three games against Teheran this season, they also managed to whoop him for five runs in 3.1 innings back on July 8. Zack Wheeler is on tap to take on Teheran in tonight's matchup.
Atlanta hasn't officially announced a starter to oppose Jacob deGrom in Sunday's matinee, but Ervin Santana is in line to take the hill. The Mets were flummoxed by Santana during his first two starts against the team this season, but managed to score four runs against him on July 9. With the way deGrom has deGrominated for the past month, four tallies would be plenty for the Mets to finish the weekend with a win.
Prediction: Mets win two of three to draw ever closer to a seemingly meaningless second-place finish.
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