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Mets prepare for first showdown of 2022 against reigning World Series champion Braves

Atlanta also recently got Ronald Acuña Jr. back from injury.

Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Mets (16-7) will welcome the defending World Series Champion Braves (10-13) to Citi Field for a four-game showdown. The two clubs were originally supposed to square off in the fourth and fifth games of 2022 before the MLB lockout forced a re-working of the schedule, resulting in Tuesday’s doubleheader (as well as one in August). The two sides played very evenly against each other last year (if you can believe it), with the Mets winning nine and losing ten against Atlanta.

The Mets are coming off a seventh consecutive series win to start the season as they took two out of three against the Phillies over the weekend. On Friday night, five Mets hurlers combined to throw the second no-hitter in franchise history. Tylor Megill started with five hitless innings, and Drew Smith, Joely Rodriguez, Seth Lugo, and Edwin Díaz combined to finish off the final four frames. The latter was particularly electric, striking out the heart of Philadelphia’s potent order on just 13 pitches. On offense, Jeff McNeil drove in two with a single, and Pete Alonso broke a 40 at-bat homerless streak with a rocket into left field, which was more than enough.

The Mets could not duplicate their Friday night feat, falling 4-1 to Philadelphia on Saturday night. Taijuan Walker returned from the IL and pitched five scoreless innings, which was a silver lining in the loss. Offensively, New York left 13 on base and squandered a number of opportunities. They still carried a 1-0 lead into the sixth, but Kyle Schwarber unloaded on a Trevor May pitch and sent it deep into the stands for a two-run homer. The Phillies never looked back from there, tacking on a couple of insurance runs to secure the series-tying victory.

On Sunday, New York collected a season-high 15 hits and matched their season high with 10 runs as they walloped Philadelphia 10-6. Max Scherzer got the nod and was good but was bitten by the long ball. He struck out five straight to start the game but then surrendered a homer to Kyle Schwarber (one of two the Mets’ nemesis hit off Mad Max in the game). Bryce Harper added one later in the contest. The offense was more than up to the task of picking up their ace, getting to Zach Eflin early and often. Both Dominic Smith and McNeil picked up four hits, and the team scored their ten runs without the benefit of a homer, as they wore down Phillies pitchers all night.

Today will be a big day for the Mets, as rosters will shrink from 28 to 26. One of the roster casualties, unsurprisingly, will be Yoan Lopez, who replaced an injured Sean Reid-Foley and has options, making it an easy decision. The less-easy decision, depending on who you ask, is what to do with the final roster spot. It will likely come down to Smith, J.D. Davis, Travis Jankowski, and Robinson Canó. Most fans would probably agree that it is Canó’s time to go, as the veteran has gotten off to a brutal start since his return from suspension. He is currently hitting .195/.233/.268 with a 53 wRC+ and a -0.4 fWAR in 12 games. However, a ~$40 million price tag that New York will be on the hook for could keep him on the roster and result in Smith, who has options, departing. There is also Jankowski, but the team’s need for reserve outfielders makes him a valuable asset to the roster. The decision is expected to come later this afternoon, before first pitch.

The Braves are coming off dropping two out of three to the Rangers over the weekend. They won the opener on Friday before dropping the Saturday and Sunday contests. In general, Atlanta has gotten off to a sluggish start to their season and find themselves in fourth place in the NL East.

This will be the first time since 2009 that the Mets will play a Braves team that does not have Freddie Freeman on its roster. The first baseman and Met killer left for Los Angeles over the offseason, and Atlanta replaced him with Matt Olson. While nobody can ever truly replace Freeman, Olson has done admirably so far. In 23 games with his new squad, the first baseman is slashing .291/.392/.465 with a 146 wRC+ and a 0.6 fWAR.

Ronald Acuña Jr., one of the most dynamic players in the sport, will also be back for this series after suffering a gruesome leg injury last summer in a game against Miami. The All Star, who is hitting .280/.376/.546 with 105 homers in his career, has collected two singles in 13 at-bats since his return.

Monday, May 2: Max Fried vs. Chris Bassitt, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Fried (2022): 24.0 IP, 21 K, 1 BB, 1 HR, 3.00 ERA, 2.22 FIP, 0.92 WHIP, 0.7 bWAR

Fried got off to a tough beginning to his season, but he has bounced back with two really great starts. On April 19, he held a potent Dodgers lineup to just two hits while striking out eight over seven shutout innings. Then, on April 26, he earned his second victory in as many starts when he allowed one earned run on four hits, with one walk and four strikeouts against the Cubs. In 16 career appearances against the Mets, he owns a 2.78 ERA, with 76 strikeouts in 68.0 innings.

Bassitt (2022): 24.0 IP, 26 K, 7 BB, 2 HR, 2.25 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 0.92 WHIP, 0.7 bWAR

Bassitt bounced back from a tough outing against the Giants with a strong start against the Cardinals his last time out. In that start, he scattered two hits and held St. Louis scoreless over six innings. He did walk a season-high three and threw just 58% of his pitches (55 of 94) for strikes, which is a season-worst. Despite the less-than-stellar control, he struck out six for the third straight start and picked up his third victory in four tries as a Met. He has been a valuable piece to what has been, so far, the best rotation in baseball in 2022.

Tuesday, May 3: Kyle Wright vs. Carlos Carrasco, 3:10 p.m. on SNY

Wright (2022): 24.0 IP, 34 K, 6 BB, 0 HR, 1.13 ERA, 1.34 FIP, 0.83 WHIP, 1.3 bWAR

Wright has been a terrific asset to Atlanta’s 2022 rotation (and to my Fantasy Baseball team). The right-hander, whom Atlanta selected fifth overall in the 2017 MLB Draft, has made limited appearances since his debut in 2018 and has generally struggled, with ERAs ranging from 4.50 (2018) to 9.95 (last year, albeit in just 6.1 innings across two starts). The right-hander has put it all together this year, however, and his 1.13 ERA is second to just Marlins starter Pablo Lopez in the NL, and third to Lopez and Mariners starter Logan Gilbert in all of baseball. He has finally begun to show the potential that Atlanta saw when they drafted him in the first round, and is well on his way to a career year.

Carrasco (2022): 22.0 IP, 23 K, 6 BB, 2 HR, 4.09 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 0.96 WHIP, 0.0 bWAR

Carrasco endured his worst start of 2022 his last time out against the Cardinals. The right-hander was tagged for eight runs (seven earned) on eight hits over 3.2 innings. It was his shortest outing of the year, after he went 5.0, 5.2, and 7.2 innings in his first three appearances. As a result, his ERA ballooned from 1.47 to 4.09. Despite the down start, he’s had a really encouraging beginning to his season after struggling through the entirety of his first year in Flushing. Tuesday will be a good time to see if his last outing was just a blip, or something to be more concerned about.

Tuesday, May 3: TBD vs. TBD, ~45 minutes after Game 1 ends on SNY

TBD

Atlanta has not officially announced a starter for Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader.

TBD

The Mets have not officially revealed a starting pitcher for Game 2 of their doubleheader on Tuesday, though all signs point to it being David Peterson who gets the nod. His Triple-A debut on Thursday was none too encouraging after a solid run in the majors, as he allowed seven earned runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings.

Wednesday, May 4: Ian Anderson vs. Tylor Megill, 1:10 p.m. on SNY

Anderson (2022): 19.1 IP, 17 K, 11 BB, 3 HR, 4.66 ERA, 5.01 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, 0.0 bWAR

After receiving votes in NL Rookie of the Year voting in both 2020 (seventh place) and 2021 (fifth place), Anderson has gotten off to a rocky start in 2022. Walks are a big reason for his struggles, as he has issues 11 free passes in just 19.1 innings. After posting a 3.9 BB/9 in 2020 and a 3.7 BB/9 in 2021, he’s up to 5.1 BB/9 this season, which is an alarming climb. In fairness, half of those came when he walked five in his season debut against the Reds, and he has improved in each start since then. In his last outing against Texas, he picked up his first Quality Start and second Win when he went 6.0 innings and allowed two earned runs on three hits, with two walks and five strikeouts.

Megill (2022): 28.0 IP, 27 K, 6 BB, 2 HR, 1.93 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 0.86 WHIP, 1.0 bWAR

Megill cemented his place in Mets history, becoming the second starting pitcher in franchise history to start a no-hitter for New York. He wasn’t particularly sharp in the game, as he walked three and had trouble locating his pitches on the night, which resulted in a lot of deep counts and limited him to just the five innings. Still, he yielded no hits and etched himself in lore alongside Johan Santana, which is pretty good company if you ask me. So what will Megill do for an encore? Tune in on Thursday to find out.

Prediction: The Mets and Braves will split their four games at Citi Field.

Poll

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

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    It’s a brave new world in the East as the Mets assert their dominance with a sweep!
    (16 votes)
  • 46%
    The Mets keep on rolling by taking three out of four against the Braves!
    (141 votes)
  • 35%
    New York and Atlanta split their four-game set.
    (106 votes)
  • 4%
    The Mets take just one but fall in three against the Braves.
    (13 votes)
  • 2%
    The Braves remind the Mets why they’re the defending champs with a sweep.
    (8 votes)
  • 5%
    Pizza!
    (17 votes)
301 votes total Vote Now