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Mets continue playoff push against East-leading Braves

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The Mets and Braves have each won five in a row heading into the series.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at New York Mets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets (67-60), who have been a juggernaut at Citi Field since the start of the second half, will try to keep that trend going as they welcome the Atlanta Braves (77-52) to Citi Field for a three-game set. The Mets dropped the first two games at SunTrust Park last week before salvaging the series finale. On the season, New York has managed five wins in 13 tries against Atlanta.

The Mets hosted the Cleveland Indians for the first time ever at Citi Field and showed them what a fringe playoff team could do over the course of the three-game sweep. On Tuesday, the bats pummeled Cleveland’s pitchers to the tune of a 9-2 victory. Steven Matz was solid over 6.1 innings and kept his team in the game long enough for the bats to do their thing. J.D. Davis hit a two-run home run, as did Michael Conforto. With the club holding on to a slim two-run lead, the offense erupted for four in the seventh and one in the eighth to put the game away.

On Wednesday, the Mets earned another thrilling walk-off victory thanks to Davis’ late game heroics. Marcus Stroman only lasted four innings before exiting what hamstring tightness, which put the brunt of the burden on the team’s previously beleaguered bullpen. A combination of five relievers tossed six innings of two-run ball, although the team fell behind in the tenth inning on a Carlos Santana two-out home run. Not appearing remotely discouraged or defeated, the team battled back in the bottom of the frame against closer Cleveland closer Brad Hand. Amed Rosario led off with a double and was advanced to third on a walk. After a Pete Alonso intentional walk, Conforto hit what appeared to be a game-ending double play but reached first base safely after nobody covered the bag. Following a Wilson Ramos infield single—not a typo—extended his hitting streak to 15 and kept the inning alive, Davis came up and drove a single into left field to cap off a captivating 4-3 win.

The club completed a three-game sweep with a rain-shorted 2-0 victory on Thursday. Ramos extended his hitting streak to 16 with a two-run double to drive in the only runs of the evening. Meanwhile, Noah Syndergaard flirted with perfection through the first five frames before allowing a one-out single to left fielder Tyler Naquin. After serving up another single to Francisco Lindor, he escaped the jam before the skies opened up and rain and thunder filled the Flushing sky. The game eventually resumed after a lengthy delay, and the teams were able to make it through to the top of the eighth before rain returned. In the end, the game was called.

Over the course of his 16-game hitting streak, Ramos is slashing .391/.418/.578 with three home runs and a 165 wRC+. He is striking out just 9.0% of the time while walking at a 4.5% clip. Meanwhile, second baseman Joe Panik has hit safely in 11 consecutive starts. In 12 games since joining New York, he’s hitting .342/.375/.421 with 10 runs scored, a 115 wRC+, and a 0.2 fWAR. Rosario also picked up a base knock in each game while going 4-for-13 over the three-game set. He’s now hitting .372/.400/.500 with a 141 wRC+ in 19 games this month.

The Braves return to Citi Field on a five-game winning streak after completing a three-game sweep of the Miami Marlins. After cruising in the first two games, they fell behind 2-1 last night before pushing across a run in the eighth and a run in the ninth to earn a walk-off win. Atlanta has opened up a six-game lead in the National League East while sitting nine games up on the Mets at the start of play tonight. Atlanta’s 77 wins is good for second in the National League, trailing only the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While much of the National League MVP discussion will center on Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger, Ronald Acuna Jr. has emerged as a potential dark horse candidate for the honor. In 128 games, the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year is hitting .296/.377/.539 with 36 home runs, 106 runs scored, a .244 ISO, a 134 wRC+, and a 5.1 fWAR. Should he manage to take home the award, he would be the first National League player since Kris Bryant in 2015 and 2016 to take home Rookie of the Year and MVP in consecutive seasons.

First baseman and Met killer Freddie Freeman is having another remarkable season in Atlanta, which has been the norm over the course of his ten-year career. The slugger is slashing .304/.395/.575 34 home runs, a .271 ISO, a 145 wRC+, and a 3.8 fWAR in 128 games. In 154 games against the Mets in his career, he’s hitting .316/.390/.532 with 26 home runs and 46 doubles.

Friday, August 23: Mike Foltynewicz vs. Jacob deGrom, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Foltynewicz (2019): 75.1 IP, 69 K, 27 BB, 19 HR, 6.09 ERA, 5.81 FIP, 1.47 WHIP

Coming off an All Star 2018 season in which he placed eighth in the National League Cy Young voting, Foltynewicz has had a disastrous year for Atlanta. He missed most of the first month of the season after experiencing right elbow soreness during Spring Training and spent all of July in Triple-A trying to figure things out after getting shellacked for eighth runs on June 22. The right-hander returned in August but hasn’t been all much better despite earning victories in two of those outings. In three starts, he’s allowed nine earned runs on 20 hits with seven walks and 19 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched. He earned a no-decision against the Dodgers on Saturday after pitching 4.2 innings and allowing two earned runs on seven hits.

deGrom (2019): 155.0 IP, 194 K, 38 BB, 15 HR, 2.61 ERA, 2.80 FIP, 1.05 WHIP

Believe it or not—for the record, we believe it—deGrom has reinserted his name into the National League Cy Young Award race. While it’s hard to see him beating out Hyun-Jin Ryu barring a catastrophic turn to the Dodgers pitcher's season, deGrom is pitching at or close to the level he was last season. His 2.61 ERA ranks fourth among qualified National League starting pitchers and sits less than one full run higher than where he ended his award-winning campaign. Meanwhile, he’s also second among starters in FIP and in fWAR, trailing Max Scherzer in each of these categories. deGrom also leads all National League pitchers with his 194 strikeouts. In his last outing against the Kansas City Royals, he earned his eighth win of 2019 after tossing seven innings of one run ball.

Saturday, August 24: Max Fried vs. Zack Wheeler, 7:10 p.m. on WPIX

Fried (2019): 131.1 IP, 134 K, 41 BB, 16 HR, 3.84 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 1.40 WHIP

Fried will be making his fourth start of 2019 against the Mets, and his second at Citi Field on Saturday night. In his lone outing in New York back on June 30, he allowed three earned runs on eight hits with six strikeouts over five innings in a game that his club would go on to lose. He’s fared much better in the Atlanta games, tossing six inning in each one while allowing a total of three earned runs on eight hits with 12 strikeouts. He picked up his 14th win of the year in his August 13 start against the Mets. His last time out, the left-hander was charged with three earned runs on eight hits in five innings while earning a no-decision.

Wheeler (2019): 149.1 IP, 153 K, 38 BB, 18 HR, 4.40 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 1.27 WHIP

After kicking August off with two of his best starts of the year against the Chicago White Sox and the Marlins, he’s followed up with two very uneven performances against the Braves and the Royals. He was handed the loss on August 13 after being tagged for five earned runs on a season-high 12 hits over five innings. He rebounded a bit on August 18 and escaped having allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits over five innings. After a tremendous 2018, he’s returned to being a mostly inconsistent pitcher with high highs and low lows. If he could replicate something close to his second-half output from 2018, it would be a huge boost to his team’s playoff chances.

Sunday, August 24: Dallas Keuchel vs. Steven Matz, 1:10 p.m. on WPIX

Keuchel (2019): 71.2 IP, 60 K, 24 BB, 12 HR, 4.14 ERA, 4.88 FIP, 1.34 WHIP

The talk of the Mets needing to sign Keuchel seems like a distant memory from another season at this point. Keuchel’s been mostly solid with his new squad, although he’s suffered the occasional rough outing, such as the eight runs he allowed in Miami on August 8. However, over his last two outings, the left-hander has performed like the pitcher the Braves expected him to be when they picked him up. He shut out the Mets over six five-hit innings on August 8 before earning the victory against Miami at home on August 20. In that appearance, he allowed one earned run on six hits with seven strikeouts over six innings.

Matz (2019): 122.2 IP, 116 K, 37 BB, 21 HR, 4.18 ERA, 4.55 FIP, 1.34 WHIP

Matz has really turned a corner over his last three outings while looking much more comfortable on the mound. He was cruising on Tuesday against Cleveland before getting into a jam and being lifted in the seventh after 97 pitched. In total, he was charged with two runs (one earned) on five hits with seven strikeouts over 6.1 innings. It was his third consecutive start completing at least six innings after lasting just 3.2 innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 2 at PNC Park. Since the All Star Break, he owns a 2.81 ERA and a 2.90 FIP with a 23.0% strikeout rate and a 4.9% walk rate in 41.2 innings.

Prediction: The Mets continue their winning ways by taking two of three.

Poll

How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Braves?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Another home sweet? You betcha!
    (69 votes)
  • 53%
    Not quite a sweep, but two of of three is still pretty good.
    (171 votes)
  • 13%
    A less than ideal result as the Mets drop two of three.
    (42 votes)
  • 6%
    The tables are turned as the Mets are swept at home.
    (20 votes)
  • 5%
    Pizza!
    (19 votes)
321 votes total Vote Now