Coming off of a 3-4 homestand, the Atlanta Braves will make the trip to Citi Field where they will face off against the New York Mets in a four-game series. The Mets entered play Thursday with a 14-11 record and had lost four-straight games pending the outcome of Thursday’s game against the Washington Nationals.
The Braves were swept to begin their homestand by the Houston Astros, but won three straight against the Marlins and carried a 4-0 lead into the finale Thursday, before a bullpen implosion sent them to a 5-4 loss. A.J. Minter struggled throughout the homestand and has allowed 10 runs over his last 3 2/3 innings.
Help does appear to be on the way though. Michael Harris began a rehab assignment Wednesday night at Gwinnett. Raisel Iglesias was set to join him Thursday. Travis d’Arnaud has been ramping up his activity as well although there is still no timetable for when he might be ready to return to action.
Despite their recent skid, the Mets are still second in the NL East, sporting a 15-11 or 14-12 record depending on the result of their game against the Nationals tonight. Brandon Nimmo has been worth 1.6 fWAR and entered Thursday with a 164 wRC+. Pete Alonso has also been at his powerful best, hitting 10 home runs, the second most in the MLB, trailing only the Dodgers’ Max Muncy.
Friday, April 28, 7:10 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South, MLB Network)
Max Fried (2023: 3 GS, 15 IP, 20 K%, 5.5 BB%, 62.5 GB%, 0.60 ERA, 2.47 FIP)
Max Fried will make his fourth start of the season to open the series against the Mets. After getting hurt on opening day, Fried has not allowed a run in the 11 2⁄3 innings he has pitched since coming off the injured list. He was especially brilliant against the Astros in his last start, going 6 2⁄3 innings while inducing a lot of soft contact. Soft contact has been a theme for Fried this season, with hitters average exit velocity standing at a paltry 81.7 MPH. Fried also hasn't allowed a barrel all season. While this could be down to a small sample size, Fried has had remarkable success at limiting hard contact, a trait that he already possessed but has taken to a new level so far. Fried has a 2.78 ERA in 97 career innings against the Mets.
David Peterson (2023: 5 GS, 25.2 IP, 25.6 K%, 7.7 BB%, 51.3 GB%, 7.36 ERA, 5.60 FIP)
David Peterson has failed to repeat a quality 2022 season, where he put up a 3.83 ERA in 105.2 innings for the Mets. He has given up 13 runs in his last two starts. Home runs have haunted Peterson, giving up five in those two starts. However, the strikeouts are still there for the left hander, with an impressive 10.52 k/9. With his tough start, his place in the rotation could be in jeopardy once the Mets get healthy. Looking under the hood, there are some signs that he can turn it around, with an impressive 3.47 xFIP and a .366 BABIP that will likely come down. The 30.4% HR/FB, which is over double what it was last year will also likely come down. Hopefully that reversion to the mean begins after his start on Friday. Peterson has a 4.50 ERA in eight appearances against the Braves, with an impressive 11.8 K/9.
Saturday, April 29, 4:05 p.m. ET (FOX)
Spencer Strider (2023: 5 GS, 30 IP, 42.6 K%, 9.6 BB%, 35.2 GB%, 1.80 ERA, 1.70 FIP)
Spencer Strider has quickly established himself as one of the most dominant starting pitchers in baseball. Strider overwhelms hitters with arguably the best fastball-slider combination in baseball. He is coming off one of the best starts of his young career, flirting with perfection against the Marlins in an 8 inning, 13 strikeout performance. Strider has had some trouble against the Mets with a 4.30 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP in 14.2 innings. However, with his talent, this shouldn’t be a worry. There is not much to say that hasn’t already been said about Strider, he is the best young pitcher in baseball.
Tylor Megill (2023: 5 GS, 25 IP, 17.3 K%, 10.9 BB%, 40.3 GB%, 3.96 ERA, 5.98 FIP)
Megill is the opposite of Peterson, in that the deeper you dive into his numbers, the worse it gets. His 3.96 ERA flatters him, as can be seen by his FIP which is over two runs higher. His strikeouts are down and his walks are up from last season. He is coming off his worst performance of against the Giants, where he allowed four runs in four innings. Megill has been effective against the Braves, with a respectable 3.86 ERA in 25.2 innings and an elite 11.6 K/9 against them. However, he seems due to a blowup outing based on his peripherals. It is hard to make it as a pitcher in 2023 with 6.84 K/9 and 4.32 BB/9.
Sunday, April 30, 1:40 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Charlie Morton (2023: 5 GS, 29.1 IP, 20.2 K%, 9.3 BB%, 48.9 GB%, 2.76 ERA, 4.33 FIP)
After a shaky first couple of starts, Charlie Morton has been back at his best lately. Each of his last three outings have been quality starts, giving up two earned runs or less in all three. His last start against the Marlins was the best of the bunch, going seven innings with three hits, one earned run and nine strikeouts. That last outing makes his middling peripherals and falling strikeout rate less alarming. His 20.2 K% is a far cry from the 28% mark he has been around as a Brave. At 39 years old, any drop in production is concerning, but the velocity is stable and his curveball is still devastating. Morton has been solid against the Mets in his long career, sporting a 3.66 ERA in 96 IP.
Jose Butto (2023: 2 GS, 9.2 IP, 6.4 K%, 21.3 BB%, 57.6 GB%, 2.79 ERA, 7.16 FIP)
Jose Butto will have his work cut out for him in his fourth career start. While the young right hander has a good 2.79 ERA and has done a good job limiting quality contact with a 57.6 GB% and a 32.4 hard hit%, there are a lot of things for him to be concerned about. He has a 1.97 WHIP, a 7.16 FIP and his walk rate dwarfs his strikeout rate. He went 4.2 innings in his last start against the Nationals, allowing two earned runs, but had only one strikeout and six walks. His other start was against Oakland where he also walked more than he struck out. Butto would not be anywhere near the Mets rotation if it weren't for injuries to guys like Justin Verlander and Jose Quintana. If Butto continues to allow as many baserunners as he did against two of the worst teams in baseball, he could be in trouble against an elite Braves offense.
Monday, May 1, 1:10 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Bryce Elder (2023: 5 GS, 29 IP, 21.8 K%, 7.6 BB%, 54.9 GB%, 2.17 ERA, 4.03 FIP)
Bryce Elder has established himself as the Braves fifth starter with an impressive start to the season. This is despite possessing stuff that doesn’t wow anybody. With a sub 90 MPH fastball, Elder walks a tightrope. He has been able to do that so far and has been able to provide the Braves length, going at least five innings in every start and has gone six in three out of five starts. Elder looks to bounce back from his worst start of the season where he allowed 4 earned runs in 5.1 innings against the Marlins. Elder will probably not be able to maintain a 2.17 ERA but even if he pitches to his 4.03 FIP and eats innings, the Braves will be happy. He has faced the Mets once and got hit hard, but one outing is not a large enough sample to draw any conclusions.
The Mets haven’t announced their starter for Monday’s game, but it is expected to be Max Scherzer who will be eligible to return after a 10-game suspension.