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Mets head to A-Town for three-game showdown with surging Braves

The Mets will try to fend off the second place Braves, who are hot on their trail.

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Mets (53-33) will play their biggest series of the season as they travel down to Atlanta to play three games with the second place Braves (52-35). The two division rivals have only squared off once this year, splitting four games in Citi Field in May.

The Mets split a series with the Marlins over the weekend at Citi Field. Thursday was by far the easiest of the games, as the home team enjoyed a fairly relaxing 10-0 blowout victory. Most of the offense came from two unlikely sources. J.D. Davis hit his first career Grand Slam and collected three hits, while James McCann hit a three-run homer of his own to drive in seven of New York’s runs with those two swings. Meanwhile on the mound, Trevor Williams turned in his best start as a Met, tossing seven shutout innings to earn the victory.

The offense went back to its frustratingly ineffective ways in a 5-2 loss on Friday. The Mets had no answer for Pablo López, who stymied them all evening. The lone offense came from solo homers from Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor, but otherwise the team went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left 10 on base. Chris Bassitt kept it close, but Drew Smith surrendered a two-run homer to Garrett Cooper in the eighth, which put the contest out of reach.

The Mets honored Keith Hernandez by retiring his number on Saturday, and celebrated with a victory right out of the 1986 Mets’ playbook in a 5-4 walk off. Pete Alonso, who wore a mustache and stirrups to pay homage to Keith, homered in the contest, as did Francisco Lindor for the second straight day. Miami tied it with a solo shot from Jesús Aguilar, and things remained that way heading into extras. After the Marlins pushed the extra runner home in the top half of the frame, the first two Mets in the bottom of the tenth struck out. It was all up to Tomás Nido, who entered for an injured McCann, and the backup backstop got it done with a double that just got by Miami’s third baseman. After that, Brandon Nimmo hit a comebacker to pitcher Tanner Scott, who threw the ball away to hand the Mets a win. In an interesting tidbit that surfaced after the game, it was the first time the Mets won on a two-out, walk off error in extra innings since Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

Sunday was a pitcher’s duel between Taijuan Walker and Sandy Alcántara, and this one went into the tenth as Saturday’s game did, but Miami came out on the winning end of the series finale. Alcántara and Walker each tossed seven shutout frames, and the bullpens kept the game scoreless heading into extra innings. In the tenth, Nido threw a ball away, allowing Hamilton, who was trying to steal third, to trot home. Miami added another run, which was too much for the Mets’ inept offense to overcome. Scott was able to keep the Mets off the board to secure the Marlins’ victory.

Heading into this upcoming series in Atlanta, the Mets have lost nine games off their largest division lead, which was at 10.5 at the start of June. A lot of that cane be attributed to Atlanta’s stellar play, but the Mets’ offense has struggled and will be missing some big players over the next few days. The Mets, who have been shut out five times in 2022, have been shut out three times in the past two weeks. The Mets will be missing McCann for the foreseeable future, and its likely the injured Starling Marte will miss the series, even if he will likely avoid an IL stint.

The Braves narrowed the gap to 1.5 games in the NL East after sweeping the Nationals over the weekend. Atlanta has won eight out of ten games in July after going 21-6 in June.

The Braves had five All Stars selected to the July 19 contest at Dodgers Stadium. Among them is shortstop Dansby Swanson, who is having his best season in the big leagues to date. He currently leads Atlanta with a 4.0 fWAR while hitting .299/.355/.488 with 14 homers and a 134 wRC+ in 86 games. Catcher William Contreras, who leads the team with a 152 wRC+, also made the team, along with former Met Travis d’Arnaud, who is slashing .267/.318/.480 with 11 home runs and a 120 wRC+. Ronald Acuña Jr. also made the team after hitting .281/.346/.443 with eight home runs and a 129 wRC+ in 52 games since returning off the IL. Fried, who will start tonight, also made the cut.

Monday, July 11: Max Scherzer vs. Max Fried, 7:20 p.m. on SNY

Scherzer (2022): 55.2 IP, 70 K, 11 BB, 5 HR, 2.26 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 0.88 WHIP, 2.0 bWAR

You couldn’t ask for a much better return from Scherzer. In his first start after missing seven weeks with an oblique injury, the right-hander suppressed the Reds. He went 6.0 innings and allowed just two hits and one hit batter while striking out 11. He looked like the old Mad Max, intense and in command as ever, which was a welcome sight for a team that sorely missed his presence on the mound. The Mets gave him an extra day of rest heading into this start and, while Buck Showalter swears it was not to line him up against Atlanta, it is an added bonus having him go against the team the Mets are trying to hold off in the division.

Fried (2022): 107.1 IP, 100 K, 17 BB, 6 HR, 2.52 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, 4.3 bWAR

Like most of the Braves, Fried has been playing his best baseball over the past few weeks. The right-hander has a 1.35 ERA, a 1.68 FIP, and a 0.94 WHIP over his last four starts. If you expand out to May 24, he has a 1.85 ERA, a 2.30 FIP, and a 1.01 WHIP in 58.1 innings over his last nine starts, of which Atlanta has won every single one. In his last start, he tossed 6.0 shutout innings while scattering five hits and striking out four Cardinals batters. He faced the Mets earlier this year and allowed two earned runs on four hits over 6.0 innings as he picked up the victory.

Tuesday, July 12: David Peterson vs. Spencer Strider, 7:20 p.m. on SNY

Peterson (2022): 62.0 IP, 67 K, 27 BB, 7 HR, 3.48 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 1.27 WHIP, 0.7 bWAR

Peterson had a rough go of it in his first start after becoming a father. The left-hander, who was on a nice little run before then, had trouble with his command all evening against the Reds, issuing a season-high five walks in the loss. As a result of his high pitch count, he only made it 3.2 innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits with seven strikeouts. He threw just 51 of his 93 pitches (58%) for strikes. He picked up his first win of 2022 against Atlanta back in May, allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits over 5.0 innings.

Strider (2022): 65.2 IP, 102 K, 25 BB, 3 HR, 2.60 ERA, 1.82 FIP, 0.98 WHIP, 2.1 bWAR

Strider has shot up the NL Rookie of the Year discussion with his incredible play. The right-hander, whom Atlanta drafted in the fourth round of the 2020 MLB Draft, has become a big member of the team’s rise since officially joining the rotation on May 30. In fact, over his past two starts, he did something no pitcher has done since 1900: Strike out 11+ batters while allowing two hits or fewer in consecutive starts. He last time out, he allowed two hits while striking out 12 in 6.0 innings against the Cardinals. Prior to that, he allowed one earned run on one hit with 11 strikeouts in 6.0 innings against the Reds. While the Mets have not seen him yet this year, he did make his only two appearances last year against New York, making two relief outings in October and picking up his first career victory in the season’s final game.

Wednesday, July 13: Chris Bassitt vs. Charlie Morton, 12:20 p.m. on SNY

Bassitt (2022): 96.0 IP, 98 K, 26 BB, 13 HR, 3.94 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 1.14 WHIP, 1.2 bWAR

In his first start off the COVID IL, Bassitt was solid and showed no rust from the time away. He allowed two earned runs on six hits with three strikeouts over 6.1 innings, picking up his fourth straight Quality Start in the process. For the second straight start, he avoided walking any batter, throwing 67 of his 99 pitches (68%) for strikes. It was not enough to avoid the loss, as he fell to .500 on the season. He pitched once against Atlanta in May and picked up the loss, though he was, again, very good. In that outing, he went 7.0 innings and allowed three earned runs on six hits, with one walk and eight strikeouts.

Morton (2022): 94.0 IP, 108 K, 34 BB, 10 HR, 4.21 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, 1.4 bWAR

Morton hasn’t been quite as good as he was in his first season in Atlanta, when he posted a 3.34 ERA and 3.18 FIP in 185.2 innings last year. Still, he’s been a dependable veteran presence for a pitching staff that is still young. He’s also been at his best over the past few weeks, pitching to a 1.60 ERA, a 2.66 FIP, and a 0.77 WHIP with 42 strikeouts over 33.2 innings since June 17. In his last outing, he picked up the win while going 7.0 innings and allowing two earned runs on four hits against the Nationals. Prior to that, he one-hit the Reds over 7.0 scoreless innings, with ten strikeouts and one walk. He has hit the most batters of any starting pitcher in the NL this year, which could mean trouble since the Mets have been hit more than any other team.

Prediction: The Mets drop two out of three to the Braves, but maintain their NL East lead.


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

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    The Mets sweep the Braves to assert their dominance in the division!
    (34 votes)
  • 18%
    The Mets take two of three to add a game to their NL East lead.
    (66 votes)
  • 31%
    The Mets lose a game by dropping two of three, but remain in first place.
    (113 votes)
  • 33%
    The Mets are sent spiraling into second as they’re swept in Atlanta.
    (122 votes)
  • 7%
    (29 votes)
364 votes total Vote Now