Mets-Braves Battle For First In NL East

Atlanta 3B Austin Riley will be a key figure in the Mets-Braves series this week
Atlanta 3B Austin Riley will be a key player in the Mets-Braves battle for first place in the NL East this week AP Photo/John Bazemore

New York-Atlanta Starters Matchups

When a big series, such as the Mets-Braves battle for first place this week, pops up on the schedule the first thing fans check is the starting pitcher matchups. From game one tomorrow night this series offers plenty of intrigue in that department.

Scherzer-Fried Is A Must See Pitching Duel

Little needs to be said about who Max Scherzer is as a pitcher at this point. When healthy he remains one of baseball’s very best. His record and ERA against Atlanta suggests they can reach him for some runs. He is 10-9 with a 3.88 ERA in 27 games against the Braves. His 185 strikeouts make it clear the team will have a battle on their hands.

Atlanta’s Max, Fried, is having an excellent start to the season. Fried has a chance to match Kyle Wright with ten wins before the All-Star break for the Braves. He certainly deserves to be metioned among the leading Cy Young candidates. Overall Fried is 4-3, a 2.78 ERA, and 78 strikeouts in 16 appearances against the Mets. Matching up against Scherzer will be a test for him, but Fried has proven capable of handling it.

Other Pitching Matchups Intriguing As Well

Scherzer-Fried is worthy of a high level postseason matchup, buts its not the only interesting one New York-Atlanta offers. David Peterson-Spencer Strider showcases a matchup of young starters who have been solid for their teams. Peterson’s last outing against the Reds was not sharp. He gave up three runs and walked 5 in just 3.2 against the Cincinnati Reds.

Strider proved just how good he could be when he did not give up a run in six innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday Night Baseball. He has only given up one earned run in his last three starts. He has an 0.89 WHIP in his last seven starts.

Wednesday’s series finale, Christopher Bassitt-Charlie Morton, pits two pitchers who had issues giving up runs at times. Bassitt’s best trait is eating up innings. He averages going at least six in every start this season. His issue, much like Morton’s, is giving up home runs. Bassitt has allowed 13 so far this season.

Morton has allowed 12 long balls this season, but he has been much better lately. He has given up just four runs in 19.2 innings over his last three starts. An ERA of 2.82 and a WHIP 0.92 in his last seven starts suggest that maybe the shortened spring training had an effect on him. For the Braves to win as they have over the last month and a half Morton needed to be better and he has been for them.

Charlie Morton's start will be an important one in the Mets-Braves series.
Charlie Morton, who has been much better for the Braves recently, will have a key start in the Mets-Braves series AP Photo/John Bazemore

Can Mets Keep Red Hot Braves From Claiming First?

Atlanta is 29-8 in their last 37 games. The Mets lead, 10.5 games at the time, has shrivelled to just 1.5 now. Mets-Braves will match up two teams who, if healthy, should be in the postseason. Something to keep in mind is that the top two division winners in each league get a bye and avoid the wild card series. What’s at stake is an opportunity to rest in get healthy while the second place finisher in the NL East could face a team as good as the San Diego Padres or St Louis Cardinals.

The pick here is for the Braves to win two out of three in this series and the Mets to just barely stay in first for now. Solid, clutch hitting from the likes Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson, and better starters overall give Atlanta the edge.

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