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Series Preview: New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves

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In an interesting twist, the Mets will see three Atlanta pitchers that they did not see during last weekend's series.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

If it seems like just yesterday that the Mets were rallying to defeat the Braves 10-8 in thrilling fashion, that's because it was almost yesterday. Right after the Mets polished off a series win over Atlanta, every major league team was spirited away on a strange Interleague journey that featured two home games and two away games for each squad this week.

Just like the Mets, the Braves split their set with an American League East opponent, alternating wins and losses with the Red Sox. However, their final defeat on Thursday hurt the most, as it came without Atlanta's most valuable player.

How's Freddie feeling?

After playing through a sprained wrist that he apparently incurred during the series with the Mets, Freddie Freeman sat out of yesterday's game and is considered day-to-day going forward. Whether or not Freeman decides to take the field this weekend could have a big effect on New York's chances, because the first baseman has been his normal beastly self at the plate this year. He leads Atlanta in home runs, RBI, slugging, and OPS. He's also been a thorny nemesis for our Mets in the past.

During the past three years, Freeman has 12 home runs and is hitting .325/.396/.580 against New York, but in 2015 those figures shrink to just two dingers and a .671 OPS in 35 at-bats. That's probably a big part of why the Mets have gone 6-3 against the Braves this year.

On the other had, Freeman played a big part in Atlanta's comeback win over the Mets last Saturday. Considering that 437-foot blast he hit off of Jacob deGrom that day, as well as his game-tying RBI single in the ninth, we have to expect Freeman to continue his dominance going forward. But, you know, it's a long season, so maybe it's a good idea for the big fella to rest that wrist.

Markakis rising

I'll admit it. I was one of the guys making fun of the Braves when they inked Nick Markakis to a four-year deal during the offseason. However, I wasn't one of those guys mocking Atlanta for batting him cleanup even though he has yet to hit a home run this season. Progressive lineup construction has arrived! And really, does anyone mind the power outage when Markakis is walking more than he's striking out? Albert Pujols used to do that, and nowadays, no one does (I still love you, Norichika Aoki).

Take notice. With a 13-percent walk rate and 16 doubles so far, Markakis can hit anywhere in Atlanta's lineup and provide value. Maybe the production doesn't hold up over the life of his contract, but for now Markakis is a big reason why Atlanta is right in the thick of the National League East title hunt.

I'd say that Markakis would be better serving the Braves in the leadoff spot, but second baseman Jace Peterson is already doing a really good job there. Acquired from San Diego this winter in the first Upton trade, Peterson was always a big walk guy in the minors, but he didn't show anything in a brief cup of coffee with the Padres in 2014. This season, he's walking 10 percent of the time while batting .279/.352/.378. Those aren't All-Star numbers, but Peterson should be a nice, cheap asset for the next five years or so.

Friday's mystery starter

When we received news that Mike Foltynewicz, whom the Mets roughed up last Sunday, was being demoted to Triple-A, I started worrying that I would have to write this preview without knowing the identity of Atlanta's Friday starting pitcher. Good news, though, as the Braves announced that Matt Wisler will be making his major league debut tonight.

Moved from San Diego to Atlanta in the second Upton trade, Wisler is considered Atlanta's top prospect even as his minor league strikeout rate has declined recently. Up through Double-A, Wisler was striking out greater than 20 percent of the batters he faced, but at Triple-A for both the Padres and Braves, he's down below that mark. The good news is that Wisler is still only 22 years old and is only walking around two batters per nine in 2015. Strike-throwers who pitch in front of solid defenses should be able to take advantage of New York's lack of power, so hopefully that doesn't happen this weekend.

Someone who doesn't throw as many strikes is another rookie, Saturday's starter Williams Perez. The Mets saw him in relief last weekend, but Perez has regularly pitched out of the rotation for the past month. He's done a nice job, too, even if his 2.29 ERA is mostly smoke and mirrors. Just pick your stat. It doesn't matter if it's Williams's 1.40 WHIP, his 85-percent strand rate, or his more than four walks per nine. All of those tend to point to a rise in ERA.

The one thing that Perez does do consistently well is generate ground balls. His 54-percent rate was instrumental in shutting down Boston during his most recent outing.

With two rookies on tap this weekend, Julio Teheran might be the least interesting name on the probables list. The Mets have been able to handle him pretty well this year, and so has everyone else. Teheran's walk rate is up this year, and he's giving up a ton of home runs for a 5.07 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. At 24 years old, Teheran is still far from his prime, but this season has to bring question marks about his potential as a future ace.

Date Time Television Mets Probable Starter Braves Probable Starter
June 19, 2015 7:35 PM SNY Jacob deGrom Matt Wisler
June 20, 2015 7:10 PM PIX 11 Noah Syndergaard Williams Perez
June 21, 2015 5:05 PM PIX 11 Matt Harvey Julio Teheran

It seems every time the Mets threaten to enter a lull, a National League East opponent shows up, and everything is good again. Hopefully that will be the case once again, as New York is sending its three hottest starters to the hill to take on some iffy choices for Atlanta. After the beating that the Mets just took up north, it would be awesome to see the young hurlers assert themselves in Atlanta.

Prediction: Sweep at Turner Field? Yes!

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