In another episode of anything can happen in the game of baseball, the New York Mets, who had not won a game since the trade deadline, are fresh off beating the Chicago Cubs in a three-game series. The same Chicago Cubs entered that series as arguably the hottest team in baseball. New York will now turn their attention to the first-place Braves in town for a four-game series. We’ll preview the opening game before going over my play for the first five innings.
While the Mets were off beating the Cubs in a series, the Atlanta Braves will enter tonight off a disappointing series split with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Braves would take a 4-3 lead into the sixth inning yesterday in part thanks to Matt Olson and Orlando Arcia's home runs, but Pittsburgh would ultimately score four runs over the next two innings and come away with a 7-5 win and secure a series split.
The Braves offense remained a juggernaut by scoring five or more runs in every game of that series, but Atlanta’s pitching staff let the team down by allowing five or more runs in each game as well. Charlie Morton will take the ball for Atlanta tonight for his 23rd start of the year. The veteran has not been sharp as of late, allowing three or more earned runs in four straight outings, which has resulted in four consecutive losses and his ERA rising to 3.86.
Morton will look to turn it around against a Mets team that is fresh off a rest day and a 4-3 win on Wednesday to secure their series over Chicago. Pete Alonso put the team on his back all series, and he capped it off by hitting a two-run home run in the win, which was his fourth longball over the three-game set. In the winning effort, New York would also get a big home run from Jeff McNeil.
Looking to build on their momentum, the Mets will send Tylor Megill to the mound for his 17th start. The right-hander has put his team in winning positions over his past two outings, allowing nine earned runs total in those starts. Overall, Megill is pitching to a 5.45 ERA in 76 innings of work.
The Atlanta Braves F5 run-line of (-.5) is priced at (-115), and I’ll be backing them for my play. While the Mets may have some momentum entering this game, the Braves offense poses as an incredibly tough matchup for Tylor Megill, and it will take a lot more than Pete Alonso to keep pace with them.
Charlie Morton has struggled as of late, but the right-hander is still boasting a 3.28 FIP in 61.1 road innings while sitting in the 57th percentile for strikeout percentage. Even with their series win over the Cubs, the Mets are still hitting .222 and rank 16th in OPS against right-handed pitching at home over the last month, so they could be an offense that helps Morton get back on track.
Offensively for Atlanta, the Braves are hitting .261 and rank 10th in wRC+ and 9th in OPS against right-handed pitching on the road over the past month. Those are daunting numbers for Tylor Megill, who is in the 7th percentile in expected slugging percentage, 5th percentile in expected batting average, and 4th percentile in xERA/xwOBA. Megill also has an xFIP of 4.91 at home this season, so while both pitchers have not been sharp recently, I think Megill will take the most damage early tonight.
Atlanta Braves F5 (-.5)(-115)