After dropping two out of three in Texas, the Atlanta Braves will continue their road trip Monday when they begin a four-game series against the New York Mets that will include a doubleheader Tuesday.
The Braves took the opener against the Rangers Friday night, but then dropped the next two games. Kyle Muller was called up to make Sunday’s start, but walked six and allowed seven runs in a 7-3 loss. Muller started that game so that Max Fried could be pushed back to pitch in Monday’s series opener. Charlie Morton and Kyle Wright will pitch in Tuesday’s doubleheader, but the Braves haven’t yet confirmed in what order. Ian Anderson will start the series finale on Wednesday.
Atlanta has been stuck in neutral for most of the season and haven’t been able to string any wins together — they’ve lost two in a row five times so far, and won two in a row three times, with no greater streaks in either direction. They will enter Monday’s series with a 10-13 record and in fourth place in the NL East standings. They are 5.5 games back pending the outcome of the Mets/Phillies matchup Sunday night.
New York has played well. They are 6-3 at home and 9-4 away from Citi Field. The Braves will miss Max Scherzer in this series, but New York’s pitching staff ranks third in the majors with a 2.85 ERA and a 2.91 FIP. They are sixth in the league in runs scored and have a 121 wRC+ as a team. This will be a series between two teams that have seen very different fortunes as a result of the new run environment: the Braves came into Sunday’s game second in xwOBA, second in xwOBACON, second in barrel rate, seventh in exit velocity, and eighth in hard-hit rate. The Mets, meanwhile, are 17th in xwOBA, 27th in xwOBACON, 20th in barrel rate, 29th in exit velocity, and dead-last in hard-hit rate. Yet, the Mets have the fourth-highest wOBA in baseball, while the Braves are 11th; the Mets are one of the only four teams, despite the currently-uncalibrated xStats, to be outhitting their xwOBA on the season. It’s also hard to blame defensive differences between the clubs, as the Braves have a better Outs Above Average on the season. It’s unclear whether all of this will catch up to the Mets eventually or is just a reality of baseball in 2022, but the Braves have been punished for hitting it hard, while the Mets are thriving off relatively weak contact — they’re fifth in grounder rate, bottom 10 in liner rate, have the second-highest weak contact rate in the majors, the fifth-highest “topped” (routine grounder) rate, second-lowest solid contact rate, etc. None of this has slowed them down at all.
Monday, May 2, 7:10 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast, MLB Network)
Max Fried (4 GS, 24.0 IP, 22.3 K%, 1.1 BB%, 3.00 ERA, 2.22 FIP, 2.65 xFIP)
After a pair of uneven starts to begin the 2022 season, Max Fried appears to be settling in nicely. Fried allowed 15 hits and seven earned runs in his first two starts against the Reds and the Nationals. In his last two outings, he allowed six hits and just one run in 13 combined innings against the Dodgers and the Cubs. Fried was originally scheduled to start Sunday’s series finale in Texas, but the Braves elected to push him back a day and have him go against the Mets in the opener. Fried made three starts against the Mets, in 2021 allowing 13 hits and five runs over 18 innings. Watch his changeup in this one; he’s increased its usage this year and it’s been a quality pitch for him in the early going.
Chris Bassitt (4 GS, 24.0 IP, 28.0 K%, 7.5 BB%, 2.25 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 3.26 xFIP)
One of the more underrated pickups of the offseason was the acquisition of starter Chris Bassett by the Mets from Oakland. Bassitt has stepped into New York’s rotation and played a big part in their excellent start. Bassett rebounded from a tough surface stats outing (five runs in six innings against the Giants) by allowing just two hits over six scoreless innings against the Cardinals. Yet, that most recent outing featured three walks and his highest xFIP of the season in four tries, while the outing against the Giants was his best xFIP mark. Go figure. Aside from the outing against the Giants, Bassitt has allowed just one other run, and he has logged six innings in every start so far.
Tuesday, May 3, 3:10 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)
Charlie Morton (4 GS, 18.0 IP, 17.4 K%, 12.8 BB%, 7.00 ERA, 5.72 FIP, 5.36 xFIP)
It has been a rough start to the 2022 season for Charlie Morton, who walked four and allowed four hits and three runs in just 2 1/3 innings in his last start against the Cubs. In his last three outings, Morton has allowed 19 hits and 12 runs in 12 2/3 innings. Perhaps more problematic, he has as many walks (10) as he does strikeouts over that span. The velocity on his four-seamer is down a tick from 95.5 mph last season to 94.8 mph this season. Opponents have a .447 wOBA and a .463 xwOBA against Morton’s four-seamer this season. Looking at his pitch shape, everything is just off, so he’s battling a general issue rather than something specific to a pitch or grip. The Braves will hope he figures it out soon, as they can’t afford to keep running him out there given how badly he’s struggling.
Carlos Carrasco (4 GS, 22.0 IP, 25.6 K%, 4.4 BB%, 4.09 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 3.20 xFIP)
Part of the Francisco Lindor trade with Cleveland, injuries limited Carlos Carrasco to just 12 starts during the 2021 season. He appears to be healthy now, but is coming off of a rough outing last time out. The Cardinals smashed Carrasco for eight hits and seven earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings in his last start. Prior to that, he had allowed three runs total in 18 1/3 innings.
Tuesday, May 3, TBD (Bally Sports Southeast, FS1)
Kyle Wright (4 GS, 24.0 IP, 37.0 K%, 6.5 BB%, 1.13 ERA, 1.34 FIP, 2.10 xFIP)
Perhaps the best story of the 2022 season so far for the Braves has been the emergence of Kyle Wright. The No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 draft languished in small bit parts in the majors over his first three seasons. Two outings in the 2021 World Series provided some momentum heading into the spring and he has taken advantage of the opportunity. In four starts this season, Wright has allowed a total of three runs and has 34 strikeouts and six walks. That is a huge departure from what we have seen from him earlier in his career. Wright admitted that he didn’t have his best stuff in his last start but allowed just three hits and one run over a season-high seven innings against the Cubs.
David Peterson (3 G, 2 GS, 14.0 IP, 18.9 K%, 9.4 BB%, 0.64 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 3.72 xFIP)
The Mets optioned David Peterson to the minors earlier this week, but he is expected to return to start one of Tuesday’s doubleheader. Peterson got off to a good start, allowing nine hits and just one run in 14 innings across two starts and a relief appearance. Peterson has made four career starts against Atlanta allowing 21 hits and 13 runs in 19 2/3 innings.
Wednesday, May 4, 1:10 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast, MLB Network)
Ian Anderson (4 GS, 19.1 IP, 20.5 K%, 13.3 BB%, 4.66 ERA, 5.01 FIP, 4.01 xFIP)
Ian Anderson got Atlanta’s road trip off on a good note with a solid performance against the Rangers. Anderson had a rough debut to the 2022 season but has allowed a total of five earned runs in three starts since. He limited the Rangers to three hits, two walks and two runs in six innings to begin the road trip. One might look at his 4.01 xFIP and see that it’s close to his 3.96 xFIP from last year and suggest not much has changed, but as a telling sign of the run environment — 3.96 xFIP was good for a well-above-average 93 xFIP- last year, yet the 4.01 this year is a below-average 110. The times are a-changing, apparently.
Tylor Megill (5 GS, 28.0 IP, 25.2 K%, 5.6 BB%, 1.93 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 2.88 xFIP)
After struggling down the stretch in 2021, Tylor Megill has been a pleasant surprise for the Mets so far this season. Megill’s velocity is up and that has led to good results. He held the Phillies hitless for five innings in his last start in a combined no-hitter for the Mets. Megill has good numbers in four career starts against the Braves, holding them to 14 hits and six runs in 19 2/3 innings. Megill’s 0.7 fWAR is second to Max Scherzer’s on the team.