Somehow, someway — the Braves have hung around in the NL East despite not being over .500 at any point this season. What was supposed to be hands-down the most competitive division in baseball has been tremendously underwhelming — partly due to injuries and partly due to regression. Regardless, someone has to win it, and the Braves have an excellent chance to gain some ground on the division-leading New York Mets this weekend.
First and foremost, Braves pitchers will essentially have the luxury of facing the Mets AAA lineup once again. Now, that doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park; the Braves had a similar opportunity a couple of weeks ago and lost two out of three. Still, New York is a much easier team to beat when they are missing JD Davis, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Kevin Pillar, and more. I mean, it really is ridiculous all the injuries the Mets are dealing with right now, and those are just the offensive players. However, there’s no reason for the Braves to feel bad; Atlanta must take advantage of the Mets’ bad fortune, and they have the perfect group of starting pitchers scheduled to do one.
Game 1 will pit Ian Anderson vs. Taijuan Walker. The rookie Anderson has been nothing but money since being called up last season, and he leads all Atlanta starters with a 2.82 ERA. Walker’s been excellent in his first season with the Mets, but he’s making his first appearance back from the IL. The Braves certainly have the edge in tonight’s pitching matchup.
Game 2 pits Max Fried against David Peterson. Fried has been brilliant since coming off the IL nearly a month ago, allowing just one run in each of his four starts. After a miserable start to his season, his ERA is down to a much more respectable 4.63 mark. He’ll look to lower that even more against a Mets lineup that has really struggled to score. Peterson is heading in the opposite direction, recording a 5.03 ERA in his last four starts.
The edge in the third matchup certainly belongs to the Mets, with Jacob deGrom toeing the rubber. However, New York constantly struggles to score when he’s on the mound, and Charlie Morton has looked like vintage Charlie Morton in his last two starts, striking out 17 and allowing just five hits and one earned run. His ERA now sits at 3.98, and he’ll need to lower it if the Braves want to end the weekend on a high note.
After sweeping a doubleheader against the Rockies on Monday, the Mets now sit three games ahead of the Braves in the NL East. However, with Anderson, Fried, and Morton on the mound — Atlanta’s three best pitchers — they have to feel good about their chances to at the very least win the series… and possibly even sweep.