Series Preview: Last Season At Turner Before They Burn Her

The Braves are 4-11. They started the season by losing 9 in a row to the Nationals and Cardinals. Since then, they swept the Marlins in Miami and then lost 2 out of 3 at home to the Dodgers. From the Mets perspective, this should be the same story as Philadelphia. The Braves are rebuilding and have already conceded this season. The Mets must beat up on them no matter where the games are held.

Last Season At Turner: In 2015, the Mets went 11-8 against the Braves and 5-5 at Turner Field. If we are looking to improve upon our 90 win 2015 season, a good place to start would be against Atlanta at this cursed field. Speaking of Turner Field, it’s the last year the Braves play here before they move to their new stadium. Supposedly the organization has stopped taking care of the damn place and the infield grass is an uneven mess. Our infield defense has been solid so far this season, but I’m sure Turner Field will find a way to screw that up for us. Maybe when the Braves leave behind Turner, they can also dump the tomahawk chop? Maybe they can try something a little less obnoxious and offensive? If the U.S. is going to take Andrew “Trail of Tears” Jackson off the front of the 20 dollar bill, maybe Manfred will encourage Atlanta to come up with some clap-based cheer that has nothing to do with Native American war cries. But that’s doubtful considering the Washington Redskins are still hanging around the NFL.

Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Matt Harvey vs. Bud Norris

Panic City is at an Amber Threat Level regarding the status of Matt Harvey. The conversation last year was “Shutdown Harvey?!? No way!” Now the Panic City Council is saying “How did we not shutdown Harvey?!?” Dan Warthen said Harvey had a great bullpen session this week, and he fixed his “mechanical issue”. The bottom line is we need to see something positive from Harvey. It doesn’t even need to be a strikeout filled complete game. Let’s see him get through 6 innings without tiring and collapsing late. That would be a refreshing change.

Last year, Harvey took a big fat loss at Turner Field. He went 6.2 innings and only gave up a run. Guess what month it was? June. It goes without saying that the entire 2015 season must be viewed through the B.C. (Before Cespedes) and A.C. (After Cespedes) lens. Since this was a B.C. loss it means nothing to me.

Bud Norris is off to a 1-2 start with a shining 6.23 ERA. He was a scrap heap pickup by the rebuilding Braves to round out their rotation. He gives up some long balls. He’s given up 20+ home runs 3 times in his career, and he’s already given up 3 on the season. Last time out against Miami he gave up two of those home runs and didn’t get out of the 6th inning. The Mets faced him at home in May of last season when he was on Baltimore. He went 7 innings and gave up 3 runs.

Neil Walker is 9 for 23 against him with a home run. That’s a .391 clip. Yoenis Cespedes is 3 for 10 with a home run. Uh oh.

Game 2: Steven Matz vs. Jhoulys Chacin

Chacin is only 28 and his career got off to a promising start despite playing in hitter friendly Colorado. But he has battled shoulder issues and other injuries which ultimately led to his release in Colorado. And if Colorado is letting a pitcher go, you know there’s real issues. Atlanta brought him in to fill out their rotation as they wait for young pitchers to emerge from their system. He shutout Washington in his first start over 6 innings and struck out 8. He wasn’t quite as impressive last time out against Miami where he went 5.1 innings and gave up 3 runs. He’s a groundball pitcher so that may limit our ability to punish him with long balls. That being said, Neil Walker is 3 for 9 against him, David Wright is 2 for 9 and Juan Lagares is 2 for 6.

Steven Matz got rocked in his first start and dominated last time out. Let’s hope this start goes well and he can get in a consistent groove.

Game 3: Jacob deGrom vs. ? (Aaron Blair? Mike Foltynewicz?)

The Braves haven’t announced their Sunday starter yet. It could be young pitcher Mike Foltynewicz who went 4-6 with a 5.71 ERA in 18 appearances (15 starts) for the Braves last season. The alternative would be highly touted prospect Aaron Blair making his major league debut. The Braves snagged the former 2013 first round pick Blair as part of the haul they received from Arizona for Shelby Miller in the offseason. Blair is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA and 0.79 WHIP at Triple-A so far this season. He also has 22 strikeouts in 19 innings. He throws a 91-95 MPH fastball that induces ground balls. He also throws a curve and change-up.

The Mets will finally get Jacob deGrom back. His baby boy Jaxon is healthy and supposedly Jacob’s lat has healed as well. It’s good to have him back although we certainly didn’t lose anything with Logan Verrett on the mound. Jacob deGrom went 0-1 in 2 starts against Atlanta last season. The loss came at Turner Field. Of course he went 7+ innings in both starts, struck out 12 overall, gave up 9 total hits and 3 total runs. In his defeat at Turner Field he only gave up 2 runs. As you would expect, both starts were in June (B.C.).

Things To Look For:

Braves Pitching: Braves have a team ERA of 4.67 and are in the bottom third of the league. They are considering bringing up top pitching prospect Aaron Blair in large part because of how incompetent their starters have been so far. Let’s hit them early and often.

Big Ball Only: We really need to get some key situational hits this weekend. At a minimum, we need to convert more often with runners in scoring position. I know chicks dig the long ball. Frankly, so do the overweight men who watch on their couch. But at some point they will lose their luster if we keep dropping games because we can’t get a clutch single or a sac fly.

Kevin Playwecki?: Travis d’Arnaud hit a few balls hard in the series finale against Philly, but he’s still batting below .200. Kevin Plawecki should get a start this weekend during the day game on Sunday. I’m hoping for a healthy All-Star season from d’Arnaud. But I won’t be upset if Terry gives Kevin an extra game here and there to keep Travis fresh.

Get ’em While They’re Cold: Freddie Freeman and Kelly Johnson have both started the season hitting around .150. It will be nice to see Kelly Johnson again. It would be nice if he was in a Mets uniform instead of Eric Campbell.

Benchcicles: The guys on our bench never play. I completely understand why. It’s simply because the starters are much better. Duh. They are real MLB starters. All these years we sat here debating if Ruben Tejada should start or Omar Quintanilla. We dissected whether to sign Chris Young, John Mayberry Jr., and many other players. And the one unifying theme was that they were all garbage. The starters that we have now are the opposite of garbage. They are established, consistent veterans or young budding stars. My point is that Wilmer Flores and Juan Lagares have taken a backseat because we have superior options. That being said, we should look to get these two guys some playing time against a crummy team like the Braves if the series goes well. It’ll help keep them from becoming ice cold on the bench, and it’ll help preserve our starters over the long season.

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