The Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets are playing some hugely important games this week. The Braves scored a big win on Tuesday night to take two of the first three in the series and cut the deficit to four games. Atlanta still needs to consistently get over .500 before thinking about making a run, but it does appear as though both of these teams are going to be buyers at the Trade Deadline.
We’ll see what happens tonight with a low-key good pitching matchup between Max Fried and Tylor Megill. The Mets are a clear favorite here in the -130 range at Jazz Sports with a total of 8.
The Braves sit at 50-51 going into tonight’s action. They’ve spent a lot of time in range of .500 and have even been .500 a few times, but they have not had a winning record at any point this season. If they are able to achieve that feat in Queens this week, it means that they will have won four of the five games in the series and have a realistic chance at winning this division.
Atlanta was dealt a tough blow with the loss of Ronald Acuna Jr. right before the All-Star Break, but they’ve done their best to figure it out and had a rare offensive explosion at Citi Field yesterday with 12 runs off of Jerad Eickhoff and the Mets pen. They’ll face a much tougher customer today in Tylor Megill, but this is still a talented offense, even without Acuna.
The Braves rank 10th in wOBA at .323. They do get punished a little bit because Truist Park is such a good offensive yard, so their wRC+ sits at 99, making them below league average with the park adjustment. While those things definitely matter, in the grand scheme of things, what matters to the Braves is scoring runs. They’ve scored 486 so far this season, a mark topped by nine teams. Most of them are playoff teams.
Max Fried will hope for some of that run support today. Fried has a 4.46 ERA with a 3.92 FIP and is a positive regression candidate as this season rolls along. The 27-year-old southpaw has struck out over a batter per inning and has done relatively well with walks. Balls in play have hurt him and he has allowed 10 homers in 84.2 innings after allowing just two in 56 innings last season.
Fried’s contact management metrics should yield a better fate than a .323 BABIP against, so that is one likely area of improvement. If the bullpen had more likely areas of improvement, bettors would feel a lot more confident in Atlanta’s daily chances and also their long-term hopes. The Braves pen has been a little bit better recently with a 4.49 ERA and a 4.17 FIP, but still not good enough.
New York Mets
The Mets have faced a ton of adversity all season long. First it was a rash of injuries on the offensive side, as guys like Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, JD Davis, Jeff McNeil, and others were all sidelined at the same time. Right now, the Mets have a patchwork rotation, as they’re missing Jacob deGrom, David Peterson, Carlos Carrasco, Joey Lucchesi, Sean Reid-Foley, Corey Oswalt, Jordan Yamamoto, and Noah Syndergaard. The bullpen is also missing Robert Gsellman and Dellin Betances.
It has been a year from hell on the health front. The Mets are still missing Francisco Lindor, but the rest of the lineup is back in the mix for the most part. With all of those losses, it is kind of a marvel that the Mets rank 17th in wOBA at .308. That is especially true when you consider how stingy Citi Field has been again this season.
This game will be in Queens and the Mets do not rank well at home. Neither do opposing offenses, so it has all canceled out to a degree, but New York is 25th in wOBA at home at .304. We’ve seen a lot of teams really play to their home park factors this season. The Mets don’t have that luxury.
Tylor Megill has been a godsend for the Mets. The 26-year-old rookie has a 2.10 ERA with a 3.35 FIP in his six starts covering 30 innings. He’s struck out 33 and walked 10. He’s only allowed seven runs on 23 hits, with only three home runs. This will be his third start against Atlanta, so we’ll see how he does with a team that already has a book on him.
The Mets pen has been a pretty solid unit overall, though in a market like New York, all we remember are the big, catastrophic failures. This is a group that has a solid 4.01 ERA and a 4.10 FIP.
Braves vs. Mets Free Pick
This line looks a little bit steep on the Mets side. Maybe Megill is the real deal. He sure looked good against a tough Blue Jays lineup last time out, but he was tested a bit in his two starts against Atlanta. We know that Fried is a guy with a solid track record and we also know that Citi Field should play well to his positive regression hopes. As an underdog here, the Braves are the pick.
Pick: Atlanta Braves