You might not know it by the way things have gone over the past couple of weeks, but the Mets are still in first place in the National League East. They’re coming off a series in San Diego in which they won two of three games and an off day yesterday as they host the Braves, who are one-and-a-half games behind them in second place in the division.
The teams played a rain-shortened three-game series in Atlanta just two series before the Mets’ visit to San Diego, with Atlanta taking two of three, handing the Mets just their second series loss of the season. The Cardinals took two of three from the Mets, too, which made for a less-than-ideal 3-6 stretch before things turned around—albeit not entirely perfectly—in San Diego.
The biggest story with the Braves since the Mets last saw them is, of course, the promotion of top prospect Ronal Acuña Jr., who made his debut on April 25. He’s gotten his major league career off to a blistering start with a .421/.500/.789 line, one stolen base, one home run, and a 249 wRC+. It’d be nice if the Mets could be the team to slow him down just a bit.
Overall, the Braves are still a strong offensive team so far this season, too. Freddie Freeman leads the way—shocker—with Ozzie Albies, Kurt Suzuki, and Nick Markakis following, all of them sitting at or above 144 wRC+. Ryan Flaherty’s been pretty good, too, but Dansby Swanson’s come down quite a bit from his hot start and now has a merely good line at .287/.330/.435.
The biggest question marks for the Mets going into the series will be how much time Yoenis Cespedes misses with his sore left thumb, if any, and whether or not they can get a significantly better start from Jason Vargas than they got on Saturday night in San Diego.
Probable pitchers (updated!)
Tuesday, May 1, 7:10 PM: Noah Syndergaard vs. Mike Soroka
With Jacob deGrom having been as great as he has been this year, Syndergaard seems like a bit of a forgotten man. In 34.2 innings across six starts, though, he has a 2.86 ERA, 2.19 FIP, and obscene strikeout and walk rates.
Earlier today, the Braves announced that they had called up Soroka to make his major league debut in the series opener. Atlanta took him in the first round of the 2015 draft, and the 20-year-old Canadian righty worked his way up to the upper tier of the major national prospect rankings, hitting 27 with Baseball America, 31 with MLB.com, and 33 with Baseball Prospectus on the pre-2018 lists. He started the year in Triple-A and made just four starts there with a 1.99 ERA, 9.5 strikeouts per nine, and 2.0 walks per nine without giving up any home runs. His strikeout rate hadn’t been that high in Single-A or Double-A, but he owns a 2.85 ERA in his minor league career.
Wednesday, May 2, 7:10 PM: Jacob deGrom vs. Sean Newcomb
deGrom was outstanding once again on Friday night in San Diego, and he’s sitting on a 2.06 ERA and 2.33 FIP in 39.1 innings in his six starts. Predicting a gem from deGrom right now is far from bold—even against a team that’s been hitting as well as the Braves. Newcomb has been a high-strikeout pitcher so far this year, but he’s struggled with walks and has a 4.23 ERA and 3.67 FIP in 27.2 innings. That ERA is roughly in line with what he put up last year in his rookie season.
Thursday, May 3, 1:10 PM: Jason Vargas vs. Julio Teheran
There’s not much more to say about Vargas’s debut in San Diego other than that he had absolutely nothing and got shelled. It’s one start, and he should probably be fine at some point, but at the moment, he has a 22.09 ERA. If Teheran is the pitcher he usually is when he faces the Mets and Vargas doesn’t pitch significantly better than his 2018 debut, this could be a tough one for the Mets.
How will the Mets fare against the Braves?
This poll is closed
Vargas pitches like a third ace, Mets sweep!
Two out of three ain’t bad when you don’t have to hear the chop
Braves take two, Mets win one
Mets get swept, Panic City returns in full force