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Mets avoid disastrous sweep and get set to welcome Atlanta to Queens, & Justin Verlander makes rehab start tonight
The Mets will need to rise to the occasion this weekend despite being short on their pitching staff
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾️
The Mets avoided a complete catastrophe by outlasting the Nationals 9-8 in the finale of their three game series on Thursday night (Box)
Brett Baty went 3-3 in the contest with his first home run of the season
Pete Alonso snapped an 0-19 skid with two straight late inning RBI hits
Jeff McNeil drove in what would prove to be the game winning run in the bottom of the 8th with his first triple of the year
Joey Lucchesi started for New York and pitched well again, exiting after 5.1 with only one run in, though Tommy Hunter allowed two of his inherited runners to score to muddy Lucchesi’s final line
Southpaw Brooks Raley’s uneasy start to 2023 continued as he served up an 8th inning grand slam to C.J. Abrams that at the time put the Mets behind 8-7
Francisco Lindor delivered two doubles and drove in three runs
David Robertson fired a perfect 9th to secure the win
Adam Ottavino was placed on the paternity list prior to the game and was replaced on the roster by Denyi Reyes
Who’s Hot 🔥
Brett Baty is 7 for his last 15 (.467) with a homer, 2 RBI, and 2 BB in his last five games
Injury Updates 🏥
RHP Justin Verlander (teres major strain) will make a rehab start for Double-A Binghamton on Friday
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets vs Braves
Where: Citi Field - Flushing, New York
Starters: LHP David Peterson (1-3, 7.36 ERA) vs. LHP Max Fried (1-0, 0.60 ERA)
When: 7:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: WPIX
The Mets best players must carry them in biggest test to date ✍🏻
Tonight, the Mets are set to welcome the Atlanta Braves to Citi Field in the first of 13 meetings with their fierce division rival from the south. Heading into the 2023 season, the two teams that finished last season deadlocked at 101 wins apiece again looked pretty even on paper.
Thus far, that’s looked like a fair assessment, with Atlanta beginning tonight’s contest with a two game edge over the Mets for first place in the East.
This weekend is clearly an opportunity for the Mets to make a strong first impression on the Braves, though unfortunately for the Mets the meeting is not coming at the most advantageous time. New York is still missing Justin Verlander who is slated to make his Mets debut next week (he will make a rehab start tonight in Binghamton), and Max Scherzer is currently suspended—he’s slated to return on Monday for the fourth game of this series but the weekend forecast could change that (remember, it isn’t a ten-day suspension, it’s a ten-game suspension).
Because of this, the already beleaguered Mets rotation will not have the starting pitching edge in any of the first three games of this series, and will need guys like David Peterson and Tylor Megill to seriously step up. If there are any doubleheaders, it will be that much harder for the Mets pitching staff.
The best way to ease the pressure on the pitching staff is to score early and often, something that will not be easy with Max Fried and Spencer Strider on the bump for Atlanta on Friday and Saturday night. Which is why, for the Mets to compete this weekend they’re going to have to lean heavily on their best offensive players.
Pete Alonso is obviously at the forefront of the Mets ability to score runs in bunches, and while he had been mired in a troubling slump, it was very encouraging to see him deliver a pair of clutch hits last night. The same can be said for Francisco Lindor who drove in three runs in the series finale with Washington, and both players are in the top 10 in the league in RBI.
As we always say around here, wherever Alonso and Lindor go, the rest of the Mets offense follows.
But as has been discussed in this space ad nauseum, New York’s offense can’t just run through their three and four hitters. Brandon Nimmo has done an incredible job for the Mets in the leadoff spot this year, and he’ll need to fight his way on base all weekend long to give his teammates RBI opportunities. But players like both Jeff McNeil and Starling Marte will also have to contribute their best series of the year.
The Braves are absolutely loaded with offensive firepower and can hit the ball out of the ballpark as well as anyone, while the Mets, as we know, are more of a three hits to score a run kind of offense.
For them to have significant success against Atlanta this weekend, it’s imperative that they are able to get extra-base power from all of their top offensive players and find a way to get the Braves on their heels.
Realistically, with the adversity New York is facing on the moment a split in this series and essentially pushing the most important meetings with the Braves to a later date would not be a disappointing result. But in the meantime, let’s hope the Mets best players can rise to the occasion and find a way to deliver the season’s first haymaker in this bitter rivalry.
Around the League 🚩
The Marlins stunned the Braves by scoring five runs in the top of the 9th to erase a 4-0 deficit and steal the finale of the series
The Pirates got home runs from Connor Joe and Rodolfo Castro as they took the rubber game from the Dodgers
Shohei Ohtani earned the win on the mound and finished a home run short of the cycle in the Angels victory over Oakland
Byron Buxton homered and drove in three in Minnesota’s 7-1 win over Kansas City
In potentially troubling news for the Yankees, Aaron Judge was forced to leave the Yankees win over the Rangers early with right hip discomfort
Matt Strahm and four Phillies relievers combined to shutout Seattle 1-0