With just one week to go in this unprecedented baseball season, the Atlanta Braves are closing in on a third straight National League East crown. They conclude their three-game series with the New York Mets on Sunday afternoon. Entering Saturday’s action, the Braves held a 3.5 game lead over the Miami Marlins, and their magic number to clinch the division was reduced to seven with Atlanta’s 15-2 thrashing of the Mets on Friday night. The Braves are leading the season series 6-2 through Friday’s game.
This preview was written before Saturday night’s middle game of the series.
On Friday night, the Braves hit six home runs, two of which were hit by number nine hitter Ozzie Albies. Seven Braves had at least two hits in the game, as they scored 12 runs in the first four innings. Albies and Marcell Ozuna, who also homered, both had three RBI in the win. Max Fried came off the IL to pitch five innings to run his record to 7-0. He lowered his ERA to 1.96, which is fourth-best in the majors. The Mets had just five hits in the game, three of which were by Amed Rosario.
Braves closing in on playoff berthAfter their big win on Friday night, the Atlanta Braves lowered their magic number to clinch a postseason berth to five.
“There was some energy in the air tonight,” manager Brian Snitker said on ajc.com. “It was a nice, cool night. It was good to see the guys come out and swing the bats like that.”
The Braves have been the best offense in baseball this season, averaging 6.12 runs per game with an .837 OPS, both league-leading totals. They are also second in batting average (.271) and third in home runs per game (1.83). The Braves have hit 90 home runs as a team, and they have four players who have hit double digits in home runs. Atlanta, who is facing a right-handed pitcher on Sunday, is batting 33 points higher and have hit 75 of their 90 home runs against righties.
Ozuna and Adam Duvall lead the power brigade with 15 dingers apiece, which is seventh in the majors. Freddie Freeman is having an MVP-type season, as well, batting .359 (third in baseball) with 48 RBI (second), and a 1.128 OPS (second). On the pitching side of things, the Braves pitching staff has a 4.56 ERA. They have given up just 56 home runs in their first 51 games. Besides Fried, the Braves starting pitching has been pretty awful this season.
Kyle Wright takes the mound on Sunday for the Braves. He is just 1-4 with a 7.20 ERA this season and a 2.08 WHIP. The only start for Wright this season in which he has given up less than three earned runs was against the Mets on August 2. In that game, he gave up zero runs in 3.1 innings, but gave up five hits and walked four. This will be his seventh start of the season. Wright has made three previous appearances (two starts) versus New York, going 0-1 with a 7.45 ERA.
Mets trying to hang on to slim playoff chancesThe New York Mets lost their fourth game in their last six games on Friday, as their postseason dreams are fading quickly.
“The game got separated really early," Mets manager Luis Rojas said on espn.com. "A lot of pitches up in the zone and not finishing his (starter Steven Matz) pitches."
The Mets enter Saturday’s action 2.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, and San Francisco Giants for the final wildcard spot in the National League, and 3.5 games behind the Miami Marlins for the second automatic bid from the National League East.
Michael Conforto leads the way for the Mets with a .337 batting average, which is sixth-best in the majors this season. He also has a .969 OPS, which is 16th. New York, who has hit 71 home runs this season, is led by Pete Alonso with 12 home runs, while Dominic Smith is ninth in the league in batting average (.331), tied for eighth with 40 RBI, and sixth in OPS at 1.018. The Mets have the best team batting average in baseball at .277 and are third in OPS at .816.
The Mets send Rick Porcello to the hill in Sunday’s series finale. He has had an awful season in 2020. Porcello is 1-5 this season with a 6.06 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. He has been even worse at home this season, going 0-3 with an 8.14 ERA. Porcello is 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA against the Braves this season, while he is 2-2 lifetime against Atlanta with a 6.46 ERA.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Atlanta Braves have one of the best offenses in baseball, while the New York Mets pitching staff is in the bottom one-third in most categories. The Braves beat the Mets by 11 runs on Friday, which was their second double-digit win over the Mets this season. Atlanta has outscored New York by an average of 3.88 runs per game in their eight meetings this season. Porcello has just one win this season for the Mets and has pitched very poorly versus Atlanta this season. Wright’s best start of the year for the Braves was against the Mets, as he gave up zero earned runs for the only time this season. Atlanta will get even closer to clinching a playoff berth with another big win over the Mets on Sunday.
Prediction: Atlanta -1.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Both starting pitchers in this matchup have been awful this season, with both having ERA’s over 6.00 and WHIP’s over 1.50. Porcello has an 8.14 home ERA this year, and a 13.50 ERA versus Atlanta this season. Wright has a 7.45 ERA versus New York in his career. The Mets and Braves are numbers one and two in batting average this season, and they have hit 161 home runs this season combined. Both teams are averaging well over five runs per game this season, so expect another high-scoring game on Sunday.