Atlanta Braves Blog

The Atlanta Braves blog by David O'Brien, baseball writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Braves vs. Mets sure feels different than week ago

 The Mets are in town for a four-game series that starts tonight, and isn’t it amazing how much different this feels than six days ago when the Braves were preparing to face them in a weekend series at New York?

Back then we looked at the pitching matchups and the team’s records and most of us figured the Braves would be lucky to win one game in that series, what with rookies John Gant and Aaron Blair going in the first two games against Matt Harvey and Steven Matz.

The Braves got quality starts (better than “quality’ from Gant) from both rookies and won those first two games, then got an overwhelming performance from Teheran in a one-hit shutout Sunday to complete the sweep and push their winning streak to a season-high five games, which got to six before it was snapped Wednesday at Miami.

So here we are, not even a week later, and the Braves have to be aiming for nothing less than three wins in a four-game series against the shaky Mets, who are 7-9 with a .229 batting average and only 49 runs scored in their past 16 games, despite hitting 18 homers and posting a 3.30 ERA in that span.

The pitching matchups: Matt Wisler vs. Matt Harvey tonight, followed by Blair vs. lefty Matz on Friday, the Teheran vs. deGrom rematch on Saturday, and Bud Norris vs. Bartolo “Big Sexy” Colon on Sunday.

•  The Braves are 24-38 since their 0-9 start. I was curious to see what some good teams have done in that same span, since April 15, and found that the Pirates and Rockies are each 29-33 -- five games better than the Braves since Atlanta’s 0-9 start.

Of course, you can’t throw out the 0-9 start, but it does show the Braves have  played a far better level of ball since that putrid start. And they’ve been rewarded more for their performance since the early season relentless schedule eased a bit, as we expected they would be.

(For those who’ve forgetten, the Braves’ schedule was the toughest in the National League for the first two months, in terms of teams they faced who were above .500 a year ago and also based on opponents’ records this season.)

The Braves are 15-19 with a 4.26 ERA, 121 runs and 22 homers in 34 games under interim manager Brian Snitker, after going  9-28 with a 4.49 ERA, 114 runs and 11 homers in 37 games under Fredi Gonzalez.

In their past seven games, the Braves are 6-1 with a sparkling 2.28 ERA. They’ve hit .266 with 34 runs and six homers in that seven-game stretch, which included a couple of extra-inning one-run games, both won by the Braves.

As for the Mets, after being swept by the Braves at home in the three-game series that ended Sunday, the New Yorkers swept a two-game home series with the Royals Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Braves have won four of the past five games against the Mets after losing each of the first four against them this season, including a three-game sweep by the Mets at Turner Field April 22-24 during the Braves’ nearly unfathomable 1-16 home start.

By the way, the Braves would certainly like to have Adonis Garcia healthy for this series, after being limited to pinch-hitting on the trip due to a sore ankle. He has a .405 career average (17-for-42) with a homer, nine RBIs and a .524 slugging percentage in 14 games vs. Mets.

• Wisler vs. Harvey: The Braves have Wisler pitching on an extra two days of rest, since they didn’t use him during the five-game road trip that ended Wednesday. They pushed back his scheduled start Wednesday at Miami for two reasons: so that John Gant could pitch against the Marlins and avoid facing the Mets in consecutive starts, and so that Wisler could face them given his past success against the Mets.

Wisler is 3-1 with a 1.55 ERA and .186 opponents’ average in four career starts against the Mets in just over 12 months, beginning with an outstanding six-hit, one-run, eight-inning performance against them for a win in his major league debut on June 19, 2015.

In his only start against the Mets this season Wisler had the best game of his career, allowing one hit and two walks with four strikeouts in eight scoreless innings of a May 3 win at New York.

Wisler snapped a four-start losing streak in his last outing when he limited the Reds to two runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings of a 7-2 Atlanta win on June 16 in Atlanta.

Harvey is 2-4 with a 3.72 ERA in six career starts against the Braves, including 1-2 with a 4.86 ERA and .314 opponents’ average in three this season. He’s had no quality starts in three against the Braves this season, lasting fewer than six innings in each of the first two and giving up seven hits and four runs in six innings of a loss to the Braves on Friday in New York in the opener of a three-game Braves sweep.

Here’s a statistical oddity, albeit still a small-sample oddity: Both of Harvey’s wins against the Braves have come at Turner Field, where he’s 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA in three starts. He’s 0-3 with a 4.59 ERA in three starts against them in New York.

Against Harvey, A.J. Pierzynski is 6-for-9, Freddie Freeman is 3-for-15 and Nick Markakis is 1-for-10. Also, Ender Inciarte is 2-for-6, Adonis Garcia is 2-for-6 and Jace Peterson is 2-for-7. The only Brave on the current 40-man roster with a homer off Harvey is the DL’d Mallex Smith (2-for-4, homer).

 • Etc.

Jace Peterson has hit safely in all 10 starts since returning from Triple-A, and is batting .342 (13-for-38) in 11 games overall in that span, with two doubles, a homer, six RBIs, six walks, five strikeouts and a .435 OBP and .474 slugging percentage. Braves are 7-4 in that span….

   Erick Aybar in nine games (eight starts) since returning from DL and rehab stint at Gwinnett: .345 (10-for-29) with five doubles, .441 OBP, .517 slugging percentage. Braves are 6-3 in those games…..

   Jeff Francoeur is 2-for-20 in his past nine games with one homer, two RBIs, one walk, 10 strikeouts, including 0-for-5 as a  pinch-hitter with three walks and one strikeout….

Finally, fun with small sample sizes: Braves have same record (8-8) as the Cubs since June 5, albeit with half as many homers (11) as the Cubs (22) and with an ERA about 1 ½ runs higher than the Cubs.

I'll  close with this one from Kris Kristofferson, one of the finest singer-songwriters there's ever been -- and one of Johnny Cash's good friends, which says plenty. Wednesday was Kristofferson's 80th birthday, and he's still going strong.

"THE PILGRIM, CHAPTER 33" by Kris Kristofferson

Wearin' yesterday's misfortunes like a smile

Once he had a future, full of money love and dreams

Which he spent like they was goin' out o' style

And he keeps right on a'changin', for the better or the worse

Searchin' for a shrine he's never found

Never knowin' if believin', is a blessin' or a curse

Or if the goin' up was worth, the comin' down

He's a poet, an' he's a picker, he's a prophet, an' he's a pusher

He's a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he's stoned

He's a walkin' contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction

Takin' ev'ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home

He has tasted good and evil, in your bedrooms and your bars

And he's traded in tomorrow for today

Runnin' from his devils Lord, and reachin' for the stars

And losin' all he loved, along the way

But if this world keeps right on turnin', for the better or the worse

And all he ever gets is older and around

From the rockin' of the cradle, to the rollin' of the hearse

The goin' up was worth, the comin' down

He's a poet, an' he's a picker, he's a prophet, an' he's a pusher

He's a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he's stoned

He's a walkin' contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction

Takin' ev'ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home

There's a lot of wrong directions, on that lonely way back home



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About the Author

David O'Brien has covered the Atlanta Braves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution since 2002.