Mets & Braves Prepare To Battle For NL East In Three-Game Series
The New York Mets and Atlanta Braves are still neck-and-neck atop the N.L. East division, and with six games remaining in the regular season, a three-game series between the two teams may decide the season. The series begins Friday in Atlanta, though inclement weather from Hurricane Ian may change that.
With a 98-58 record, the Mets hold a one-game lead over the 97-59 Braves. On Wednesday, the two teams were tied for first, but Atlanta lost to the Washington Nationals while New York won against the Miami Marlins. Both games ended in extra innings a half hour apart.
With the lead in the division, New York can clinch with a three-game sweep of Atlanta. If the Mets win two games against the Braves, they can clinch with one win in their final three-game series against the Nationals. New York also has the tiebreaker over Atlanta, though that can change in this series.
The Braves cannot clinch with a sweep but winning all three games against the Mets would earn them the tiebreaker. It would also put them in a very good position to secure the division in three games against the Marlins. Atlanta can still win the division with two wins over New York this weekend, but the team would not be able to control its own destiny in that scenario.
The table's shrinking!
With just 6 games left, this weekend's series matters more than ever. A Braves sweep all but locks things up for Atlanta. If the Mets take at least 1 game, though, they control their destiny. Take 2, Atlanta would need a miracle – take 3, it's over.#LGM pic.twitter.com/3qXWvPHAJB
— Mets Analytics (@MetsAnalytics) September 29, 2022
Both teams have arranged their pitching rotations to best prepare for this upcoming series. Barring complications, the Mets will start Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt while the Braves will likely start Max Fried, Kyle Wright and Charlie Morton.
Both teams have premier starting pitchers in the National League, though the Mets’ combination of deGrom and Scherzer is especially notable. Atlanta will compete without rising star Spencer Strider, who is on the 15-day IL with an oblique strain.
Offensively, New York and Atlanta are vastly different. The Braves are dependent on power-hitting from players like Austin Riley and Matt Olson. Dansby Swanson, Marcell Ozuna and Ronald Acuña are also key contributors in the stacked lineup. Atlanta ranks second in the league in total home runs, trailing only Aaron Judge’s New York Yankees.
Meanwhile, the Mets typically depend on base hits and rallies, as hitters like Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo have all been versatile contact hitters capable of more at times. Every team needs its anchor though, and Pete Alonso has had a powerful year, becoming the first player in franchise history to hit 40 home runs in separate seasons.
The Mets and Braves earned postseason berths some time ago, but the winner of the division will earn a valuable bye straight to the NLDS. Escaping a likely Wild Card matchup with the San Diego Padres could leave either team in a much better position to reach the NLCS and World Series.
As of right now, the Braves will have home-field advantage for the series, but MLB officials are considering contingency plans as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida. Rain forecasts in Atlanta are clear for now but there could be further complications.
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