The New York Mets (44-61) return home to begin a seven-game home stand with four against the Atlanta Braves (57-47). The Mets have dropped nine of 12 to the Braves this year, including all three at Citi Field (May 1-3). In that sweep, Atlanta outscored New York by a 21-2 margin.
The Mets finished their road trip 2-4 after splitting four games with the Pittsburgh Pirates and being swept in a two-game set with the Washington Nationals. In their last two contests, they allowed a combined 30 runs, including 25 on Tuesday night in a historically embarrassing display that included a pitching appearance from infielder Jose Reyes. Though Reyes allowed two home runs and six earned runs in his pitching debut, he did redeem himself somewhat in the Wednesday matinee contest, hitting two home runs in the losing effort.
To make matters worse, Tuesday night starter Steven Matz — who allowed seven runs and only recorded two outs before being removed — complained of forearm tightness following the game and is scheduled to have an MRI. Mickey Callaway had recently described Matz as having “dead arm” over the course of his last three starts. There is no news yet on the severity of the injury. Matz has been plagued by injuries throughout his young career.
There weren’t a lot of positives to draw from the two-game drubbing. However, Jeff McNeil did hit first career home run on Tuesday, which was a happy moment in an otherwise bleak couple of days. Noah Syndergaard also completed seven innings for the first time since May 20 and retired 15 of the last 16 batters he faced while showing no ill effects from hand, foot, and mouth disease. Michael Conforto was also able to start both games after he sat Sunday out with a sore and swollen thumb and made a great diving play on Wednesday.
The Braves swept a rain-shortened two-game series against the Miami Marlins to rebound after dropping three of four to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Atlanta continues to be led by its offense, which ranks second in the National League in batting average (.261), third in wRC+ (101), third in OPS (.751), and fourth in runs scored (505). Leading the charge is Freddie Freeman, who ranks first among National League first basemen with a .316 batting average, second with a 147 wRC+ and a 4.0 fWAR, and third with a .930 OPS. Freeman has always tormented the Mets, hitting .318/.389/.534 against them with 22 home runs — his most against any team — in 509 career at-bats.
Atlanta has also gotten a huge boost in 2018 from sophomore second baseman and All-Star Ozzie Albies, who ranks second among National League second basemen with a 3.3 fWAR and fourth with a 117 wRC+ and an .820 OPS. The Braves sit just a half-game back of the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East and a half-game back of the Dodgers for the second Wild Card spot going into this series.
Thursday, August 2: Mike Foltynewicz vs. Jason Vargas, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Foltynewicz (2018): 112.1 IP, 133 K, 48 BB, 12 HR, 3.04 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 1.19 WHIP
The month of July was not kind for the former first round pick. After throwing five shutout innings on July 1, Foltynewicz gave up 18 earned runs in his next four appearances spanning 23.1 innings. In the process, his ERA ballooned from 2.02 to 3.04 by month’s end. He faced the Mets on June 12 in Atlanta and threw five shutout innings while striking out six, though his career ERA against them still sits at 7.04.
Vargas (2018): 42.0 IP, 35 K, 17 BB, 12 HR, 8.36 ERA, 6.64 FIP, 1.79 WHIP
In his first start back from a five-week disabled list stint for a strained calf, Vargas allowed three earned runs on three hits in 4.1 innings against the Pirates. It certainly doesn’t rank among his worse starts this year, but he continues to display a inability to pitch deep into games. In 10 starts this year, he has failed to pitch into the sixth inning and has only completed five innings four times. He will look to get his season on track against a Braves team that has hit lefties hard. Atlanta ranks first in the National League with a 110 wRC+ and second in the National League with a .266 batting average against southpaws.
Friday, August 3: Anibal Sanchez vs. Jacob deGrom, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Sanchez (2018): 78.0 IP, 74 K, 24 BB, 10 HR, 3.00 ERA, 3.97 FIP, 1.09 WHIP
Sanchez has been solid in his first season for the Braves after spending six years with the Detroit Tigers. Since missing six weeks with a strained right hamstring earlier this year, Sanchez has made 11 starts and lasted at least six innings in seven of them. In his last outing against the Dodgers, he gave up four earned runs in 6.1 innings but was let down by his defense. He has faced the Mets on May 29, going four innings and allowing four runs on five hits. In 13 starts against the Mets, he has a 4.34 ERA.
deGrom (2018): 138.1 IP, 164 K, 32 BB, 7 HR, 1.82 ERA, 2.25 FIP, 0.98 WHIP
Every deGrom outing has a “Groundhog Day” quality to it, with the righty pitching about as well as he can and coming up empty thanks to the offense’s futility. In his last start, he tossed up zeroes for five innings before cracking for a run in the sixth and two in the seventh against the Pirates. With the offense again scoring zero runs for him, he took a loss and fell to 5-6 despite leading the National League in ERA and FIP. Even though wins are a terrible metric for quantifying a pitcher’s success, his five wins could end up costing him a much-deserved Cy Young Award.
Saturday, August 4: Kevin Gausman vs. Zack Wheeler, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Gausman (2018): 124.0 IP, 104 K, 32 BB, 21 HR, 4.43 ERA, 4.58 FIP, 1.38 WHIP
Gausman will make his first start for the Braves since being traded from the Baltimore Orioles along with reliever Darren O’Day at the deadline. In his last start before the deal, he went seven innings and allowed two earned runs against the Tampa Bay Rays while striking out five. The long ball has been a big issue for Gausman, as he surrendered 21 while with the Orioles. He joins a rotation that has the third best ERA (3.71) in the National League.
Wheeler (2018): 120.1 IP, 116 K, 42 BB, 11 HR, 4.11 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 1.29 WHIP
When the clock struck 4:00pm on July 31, Wheeler was still a member of the Mets. The focus will now move to Wheeler continuing his recent run of success which can be traced back to June 1. His last outing was one of his best of the season, as he went pitched six shutout innings against Pittsburgh and drove in the only run of the game with a double. His fastball velocity has also averaged right around 97mph during that run. He has a 3.20 ERA and a 3.16 FIP in his last 11 starts (70.1 innings) with 63 strikeouts against 23 walks.
Sunday, August 5: Julio Teheran vs. TBD, 1:10 p.m. on SNY
Teheran (2018): 115.0 IP, 105 K, 57 BB, 21 HR, 4.46 ERA, 5.53 FIP, 1.26 WHIP
Teheran is having his second consecutive rough season after an All-Star campaign in 2016. He leads the National League in home runs allowed, his 11.8% walk rate is well above his career average of 7.5%, and his 5.53 FIP represents a career worst. The Mets could be just what the right-hander needs to get going, as he has historically dominated them. In 22 career starts spanning 143 innings, he has a 2.33 ERA against the Mets.
Steven Matz was in line to pitch on Sunday, but that appears unlikely following his injury. The team is awaiting results of his MRI. Corey Oswalt would be the logical choice to take his spot, as he last pitched on Monday night.
Predictions: The Braves will take three out of four from the Mets
How will the Mets fare in their four-game series against the Braves?
This poll is closed
Mets sweep the Braves, because why not!
Mets win three out of four to slow down Atlanta
A split will do
Braves win the series, but the Mets steal a game
Mets get swept again