After a rough start to their road trip, the Atlanta Braves came back and finished strong, winning six straight in Boston and Miami to build a little momentum as they head into a weekday rematch against the New York Mets. After Sunday’s come-from-behind win, Atlanta is 70-46 and 5.5 games behind New York in the NL East standings.
It isn’t all good news for the Braves, who had to juggle their rotation significantly for the series in Miami. Max Fried is currently on the 7-Day Concussion Injured List after banging his head on the ground last Saturday in New York. Kyle Wright experienced a velocity drop in his last start in Boston and is dealing with “arm fatigue.” Brian Snitker said Sunday that both players are day-to-day and theoretically could slot into this series somewhere. If neither are able to return, then Atlanta will be forced to make a roster move to cover Thursday’s series finale.
Since taking four of five from the Braves last weekend, the Mets swept the Reds and then took two of three from Philadelphia. They have won two straight and eight of 10 overall. Atlanta is just 4-8 against New York this season and needs a much better showing in this series than what they had last weekend at Citi Field if they want to stay relevant in the division race.
The Mets come into this series ranked fourth in MLB in position player fWAR and seventh in pitching fWAR; they have around 2 more fWAR than the Braves on the season despite the much-bigger division gap.
Monday, August 15, 7:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Carlos Carrasco (22 GS, 124.1 IP, 23.7 K%, 6.2 BB%, 3.76 ERA, 3.41 FIP)
The Braves faced Carrasco in the opener of last weekend’s series, where he allowed four hits, three runs and struck out six in six innings. That snapped a three start stretch where he hadn’t allowed a run (18 2/3 innings). Carrasco allowed seven hits, two runs and struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings in his last start against the Reds.
Spencer Strider (24 G, 13 GS, 89.2 IP, 38.0 K%, 9.4 BB%, 3.11 ERA, 1.97 FIP)
While the Braves say they don’t have a set innings limit for Spencer Strider, they pushed him back to Monday’s series opener giving him seven full days of rest between starts. Strider struggled in his matchup against Jacob deGrom last weekend allowing six hits, two walks and four runs in just 2 2/3 innings. After the game, he had some choice comments for some close calls and ball-in-play shenanigans that went the Mets’ way, so it will be interesting to see how he responds in Monday’s home game.
Tuesday, August 16, 7:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Taijuan Walker (20 GS, 110.1 IP, 18.7 K%, 6.8 BB%, 3.43 ERA, 3.61 FIP)
Atlanta didn’t have much success in New York, but what little they had came against Taijuan Walker. Walker was tagged for seven hits and eight runs and retired just three batters in his worst start of the season. He bounced back with a good outing against Cincinnati where he allowed five hits, two runs and struck out five in six innings.
Charlie Morton (22 GS, 122.2 IP, 27.3 K%, 8.5 BB%, 4.26 ERA, 4.14 FIP)
The Mets didn’t see Charlie Morton last weekend, but he was hit hard in a start in Boston where he tied a season-high with three home runs allowed. In all, Morton allowed six hits and five runs but was able to get through six innings and struck out seven. That was just the third time in his previous 10 starts that he had allowed more than two runs.
Wednesday, August 17, 7:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Max Scherzer (16 GS, 102.2 IP, 31.3 K%, 4.2 BB%, 1.93 ERA, 2.40 FIP)
Max Scherzer mowed the Braves down last weekend, striking out 11 while allowing just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He followed that up with another good performance where he allowed nine hits, but just one run in seven innings against the Phillies. Since returning from the Injured List on July 5, Scherzer has allowed a total of eight earned runs and has struck out 67 in 53 innings.
Jake Odorizzi (14 GS, 68.2 IP, 18.1 K%, 7.3 BB%, 3.80 ERA, 3.79 FIP)
Jake Odorizzi made his Braves debut against Mets up in New York and allowed six hits, three walks and two earned runs in 4 2/3 innings before exiting due to a leg cramp. Odorizzi’s next start came in Miami where he allowed eight hits and two runs, but lasted just four innings. He hasn’t been particularly sharp in either of his outings, but has been able to somewhat limit the damage so far.
Thursday, August 18, 7:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Jacob deGrom (3 GS, 16.2 IP, 50.0 K%, 1.8 BB%, 1.62 ERA, 0.72 FIP)
Jacob deGrom didn’t make his season debut until August 2, but it didn’t take him long to remind everyone that he is still the best pitcher on the planet. deGrom turned in as dominant a performance as you have seen, retiring the first 17 hitters he faced against Atlanta last weekend while racking up 12 strikeouts. A walk and a two-run home run by Dansby Swanson ended his night after 5 2/3 innings. He picked right up where he left off against the Phillies Saturday allowing just two hits while striking out 10 over six scoreless innings. Through three starts, deGrom has struck out half of the batters he has faced.
The Braves are hoping that Thursday’s start will go to one of Fried or Wright. If neither are able to go, Kyle Muller would appear to be an option as he would be on regular rest. Muller pitched well in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader in Miami allowing just three hits and two runs in five innings. He struck out five and pounded the strike zone allowing just one walk. That is a big difference from what he has shown in the past and he could get another opportunity if Wright needs to go on the shelf.