The undefeated Atlanta Braves are set to take on their once and future rival, the New York Mets, in the second series of the year. The Mets are coming off an exciting showcase of pitching talent against the Nationals. Thanks largely to stellar performances from the top of their rotation, New York stole the series 2-1 from the vaunted Nationals. The Braves fortunately won’t see Harvey or deGrom, but the matchups still won’t be a piece of cake. Jon “Jawbreaker” Niese, Dillon Gee, and Opening Day ace/cartoon wrestler Bartolo Colón will be taking the mound at Turner. For all the shade thrown at the NL East this offseason, there is a wealth of excellent pitching in the division.
The Braves are no exception to this, of course. We saw them roast the Marlins in three straight games on the backs of Teheran, Wood, and Miller. The 3 starters allowed a combined 3 runs in the series. Thanks to the off day, the Braves will get to send Teheran and Wood out against the Mets on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. We have no reason beyond fate’s twisted hand not to expect more excellence from both of them. Eric Stults will be getting the first game of the series against Niese. Stults is a fine pitcher. He will not dazzle nor will he dominate. However, the former Padre is capable of eating decent amounts of innings and keeping the game close enough for the Atlanta offense to take the game.
What about that offense? They showed their best possible hand on Tuesday with 12 runs on 14 hits. But the 2 runs and 6 hits they managed in each of the other two games are more indicative of what we will likely be seeing from this team all season. The 2015 Braves lineup will not score a lot of runs. Against average pitching, they should be able to manage 2 or 3 per game, though. Will that be enough to take the home opening series against this Mets lineup?
The Mets offense is somewhere just below middling. Wright is finally healthy and will crush this year. Lagares, d’Arnaud, and even Cuddyer are good hitters who will likely produce slightly above average at their respective positions. Granderson should have something besides garbage left in the tank. And Duda can hit baseballs very hard. This Mets team is capable of beating every opponent in the division on any given day; as we saw earlier this week in Washington. But they are by no means dominant, nor are they a sure thing. The back of the Braves rotation and Julio should be able to keep them in check. We’re going to be looking at 3 close games and a season full of equally tight, frustrating matchups between New York and Atlanta. The frustration being cut a bit by the special event of getting to see Bartolo Colón bat.
The Mets have rebuilt. Alderson has assembled a good squad with an outstanding young pitching staff that will only get better as injuries heal. The Braves are beginning their own rebuild and are stocking the stable with a pitching force of their own. This is great for Braves fans who have been around long enough to remember how much fun having the Mets as our division rival once was. In the years to come Atlanta and New York should emerge as top of the division contenders once again. For now, they are both battling for the title of less mediocre. Nonetheless, the fight for third should be a fun battle, and it all kicks off tonight.
Here are your projections from Baseball-Sim and the Mets pitching previews for this series. Note that the simulation robots (0-3 on the season) have picked Atlanta to win for the first time this Saturday. They’re coming around.
Game 1: 4/10
Game 2: 4/11
Game 3: 4/12