After wrapping up a bit of a disappointing trip in Cincinnati, the Braves are traveling East to meet up with division rivals in the New York Mets. Though the Braves are surprisingly just 7-6 against the Metropolitans in 2014 (I wouldn’t have bet they were that close), they were also just 10-9 against them in 2013, and this is pretty much in line with how things go for the Braves nowadays: Sweep the best teams, get swept by the worst.
The Mets are 9 games under .500 despite pedestrian offensive production in most spots on the diamond, but are only that close to .500 thanks to a solid rotation and a bullpen that has really come into it’s own. The Braves will kick off the series tonight against Dillon Gee, who they are very familiar with. A middle of the pack pitcher, Gee comes into his own and throws like an ace around Atlanta (of course), with a career 2.80 ERA in 80.1 career innings against them (including one of his 3 career complete games). Gee tossed 7 innings of 4 hit/1 run ball against the Braves earlier this year in his first start off of the disabled list. Luckily the Braves will be countering with their best pitcher at the moment in Alex Wood.
Zack Wheeler has been much more hittable for the Braves in his brief career, having given up 32 of them in 36 innings to go along with 33 strikeouts. Wheeler is probably the most talented starter the Mets have, but they key will be making him work just as hard as they did at the end of June, where they chased Wheeler with one out in the 6th inning after 113 pitches. Rounding out the series is Mets rotation staple Jon Niese. His walk rate continues to be higher than normal for his career, but he has had some mild success in heavy exposure to the Braves. Lets just hope he doesn’t break another jaw.
The struggling Mets offense could start the series even more of a leg down, as both team leader in WAR Daniel Murphy and struggling captain David Wright look to be questionable for tonight’s game. Look for a combination of Eric Campbell and the speedy Eric Young Jr to start in their place. Wright has yet to find any offensive life in 2014, as his power continues to decline along with his walk rate. His .692 OPS would be the worst of his career by far, and far from the average .872 for his career.
Aside from Murphy, a the majority of the Mets offensive production comes from Lucas Duda, who seems to have settled in at first base: He is registering the best walk and slugging numbers of his career. That combined with not hurting the Mets as bad by playing the outfield anymore has made a Duda nearly a 3 win player according to Fangraphs. From here, the offensive attack basically falls off a cliff. Curtis Granderson may look like Barry Bonds when he plays us, but the Grandy man is basically an all or nothing hitter at this point, and should be pitched to as such. Ruben Tejada continues to play good enough defense to overlook his career .641 OPS (but lets face it – the Mets have no other shortstops at this point, just 47 corner outfielders).
The Mets are a remarkably similar team to the Braves (good pitching, inconsistent offense), but the difference between the two is the Braves are just a plain, all around more talented team. Atlanta shouldn’t settle for anything less than 2 out of 3, and anything less is a step in the wrong direction for a team with playoff aspirations.
7:10 PM EST, Tuesday, August 26th
7:10 PM EST, Wednesday, August 27th
7:10 PM EST, Thursday, August 28th
Tags: Atlanta Braves