After last night’s rain-soaked drubbing of the Mets, the Braves are winners of seven straight, and look to grab an eighth straight win as Charlie Morton faces off against Taijuan Walker in Game Two of this four-game set between division rivals.
For the Braves, seeking their eighth straight win against Walker is a source of minor amusement, given that the Braves tagged the right-hander for eight runs in an inning of work when these two teams met in Flushing two weeks ago. That game turned into a 9-6 Braves win, their only victory in a disappointing five-game set that saw the Mets pull way ahead in the division race. Walker allowed two homers while getting just three outs — Eddie Rosario popped a three-run shot against him in the first, and Walker allowed four straight hits to begin the second, prompting his exit. While it was not the worst start of his career (he had a start in 2021 in which he retired just one of the nine batters he faced, including walking four of them), it wasn’t far off, and the Braves could make it two laughers in a row if they’re able to get anything close to the same results against Walker as they did last time.
On the season, that bad start and all, Walker has a 90 ERA-, 93 FIP-, and 100 xFIP-. The Braves popping him for two longballs aside, he continues to run a low HR/FB rate despite a high-ish grounder rate. though it’s normalizing somewhat recently — five of his nine total homers allowed have come in his last four outings. Walker kinda-sorta bounced back from being shelled by holding the Reds to two runs in six innings last Wednesday, albeit with a 5/3 K/BB ratio and one of his lowest grounder rates of the season. It’ll be interesting to see how Walker and the Braves approach each other, because the Atlanta bats were right on everything he had to offer in New York.
Among the Braves’ regular rotation arms, Charlie Morton was the only guy that had no part in the series in New York, though it’s not clear if things would have improved much had he taken one of the starts. On the season, Morton has a 102/105/92 line, and is the opposite of Walker in that his HR/FB is pretty high. Morton has already had five starts this year in which he’s allowed multiple homers; across the entirety of the 2018-2021 seasons, he only had eight such starts. Even more brutal have been a couple of games this season in which he allowed three homers apiece — he has four career such games total, including one in 2010, one in 2017, and two in his last five starts.
One of those three-homer games came the last time Morton faced the Mets in a game the Braves dropped at home, 7-3. Morton had a 6/3 K/BB ratio but the longballs killed him and the Braves. Earlier in the year, Morton faced the Mets in New York and gave up five runs (four earned) with a 3/3 K/BB ratio in a 5-4 Braves loss. The Mets aren’t the most powerful of teams, but most major league hitters can do a lot of damage on grooved fastballs and hanging curves, so there’s a clear danger aspect here to Morton and the Braves.
In his most recent outing, the game that started the Braves’ current winning streak, Morton allowed three homers and five total runs to the Red Sox, albeit with a nice 7/1 K/BB ratio. In the nine starts prior, he had put together a good run, with only that Mets three-homer game marring the stretch. Given how hit or miss Morton has been this season, it’s hard to know exactly what the Braves are going to get here, but hopefully whatever it is gives them a great chance for win number eight in a row anyway.
New York Mets @ Atlanta Braves
Tuesday, August 16, 2022
7:20 pm EDT
Truist Park, Atlanta, GA
TV: Bally Sports South
Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, La Mejor 1600/1460/1130 AM
XM Radio: Ch. 182