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What to watch for in Tuesday night’s Mets-Braves game

Mets handling heat; David Peterson’s Maybe Mystery Box?

MLB: JUN 12 Mets at Angels Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Mets took the first game of the division showdown on Monday night, as the Braves had some unfortunate ball-in-play stuff early, and then faded away late.

  • Max Fried: .352 xwOBA, .389 wOBA
  • Max Scherzer: .307 xwOBA, .175 wOBA
  • Braves relievers: .299 xwOBA, .338 wOBA
  • Mets relievers: .159 xwOBA, .268 wOBA

Tonight is a whole different ballgame, with some other stuff to look for.

Can the Mets handle extreme heat?

While Spencer Strider is not a one-trick-and-that-trick-is-a-fastball-pony, it’s hard to deny that a lot of his success stems from his high-velocity four-seamer that holds hitters to a .310s xwOBA (league-average is .370ish), while being used about two-thirds of the time.

This naturally raises the question of what the Mets are going to do about velocity of this ilk. Here’s what I can tell you. The interquartile range (25th to 75th percentile) of Strider’s fastball is 96.8 to 99.8 mph. I’m going to expand that a bit to 96-100 mph, just because the Baseball Savant query tool won’t let me query partial mph values.

The Mets have seen 764 four-seamers in this range, 20th in MLB by frequency and 22nd by rate. 201 of their PAs (21st in MLB) have ended with a four-seamer in this velocity range. In those PAs:

  • The Mets have the 20th-highest xwOBA (Braves: 2nd) and the 20th-highest wOBA (Braves: 6th).
  • The Mets have the third-highest swing rate (Braves: 8th), including the 12th-highest z-swing rate and the second-highest o-swing (chase) rate (Braves: 7th in o-swing, 15th in z-swing).
  • The Mets have the 17th-highest whiff rate (Braves: 4th), including the 12th-highest z-whiff and the fourth-lowest o-whiff (Braves: 4th in z-whiff, 10th in o-whiff).

None of this should be particularly surprising, but it does set up an interesting challenge for Strider. In short, the Mets are going to swing at his fastballs, especially the ones he spots out of the zone. But they’re not necessarily going to whiff on them, instead fouling them off or garnering weak contact (that hasn’t really paid dividends to date). The Braves’ approach against these fastballs, to sell out and take massive hacks when they think they’re getting a fastball, works better in aggregate... but Strider isn’t facing the Braves, he’s facing the Mets.

Will the relatively low propensity to whiff on hard four-seamers frustrate Strider and the Braves? Will the Mets convert it into more soft flares into center? Stay tuned.

David Peterson’s Mystery Box?

David Peterson has had 11 starts this year. Let’s define a start as “good” if ERA-/FIP-/xFIP- are below 90, “okay” if they’re between 90 and 110, and “bad” if they’re above those numbers. If you do that, then, Peterson looks like this:

  • ERA-: 6 good, 0 okay, 5 bad
  • FIP-: 5 good, 2 okay, 4 bad
  • xFIP-: 3 good, 4 okay, 4 bad

Is that particularly volatile?

  • Strider, for example, is 6/0/2, 5/2/1, 6/1/1, but he’s also been dominant.
  • What about someone like Charlie Morton? 8/0/9, 6/4/7, 6/4/7.
  • Or Chris Bassitt? 8/2/6, 8/2/6, 8/4/4.
  • Or Carlos Carrasco? 10/0/7, 9/5/3, 9/4/4.

The non-Strider guys are there because they have average-y lines right now, like Peterson. This is just a small group, but if you ignore ERA (because oh boy does this make it look lumpy), you get 18-36 percent of Peterson’s starts being “okay,” compared to 20-25ish percent for other guys.

Which is mostly to say, Peterson’s pitching looks really variable, but that’s kind of pitching in general. Perhaps the only difference in this comparison of Peterson to Morton, Bassitt, and Carrasco is that Peterson has tended to have good outings less frequently so far. In his last three outings, he’s gone 1/1/1 by FIP- and 2/0/1 by xFIP- — the Braves will try to make him 1/1/2 and 2/0/2 in his last four tonight.

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