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Series Preview: Mets End Homestand With Three Against Atlanta

The Mets begin a three-game series with the Atlanta Braves tonight at 7:10.

The Braves come into this series red-hot and look like they are going to challenge the Nationals for the NL East crown. Atlanta has won seven of their last ten, and 12 of their last 15 games. They currently sit only four and a half back of Washington.

The Braves, as of late, have looked more like a team that could play well into October as opposed to a team that could barely get into the playoffs. They have gotten solid production from expected (and unexpected) places in their lineup that have really helped them stay alive.

Balance is one word that perfectly describes the Braves. Their offense and their pitching staff are both very solid. They rank in the middle of the pack in most major offensive categories and the same is true for the pitching staff as well. That, combined with new acquisitions and a dominant bullpen, make the Braves very dangerous, and very tough to beat.

How They Compare

Pitching Matchups

Game 1- Tonight 7:10

Matt Harvey (16.1 IP, 100 ERA+, 1.34 WHIP, 3.29 K/BB)

vs.

Paul Maholm (127.1 IP, 107 ERA+, 1.23 WHIP, 2.47 K/BB)

Game 2- Saturday 7:10

Johan Santana (110.2 IP, 95 ERA+, 1.26 WHIP, 2.76 K/BB)

vs.

Kris Medlen (64.2 IP, 171 ERA+, 1.09 WHIP, 2.81 K/BB)

Game 3- Sunday 8:10

Jonathon Niese (136.2 IP, 99 ERA+, 1.18 WHIP, 3.22 K/BB)

vs.

Ben Sheets (32 IP, 289 ERA+, 1.18 WHIP, 3.29 K/BB)

Biggest Threats

Notes

  • Chipper Jones has been red-hot lately. Jones has hit .354 since the beginning of July with four home runs. Jones is having quite a season for someone his age, a season that he claims will be his last.
  • While Jones has picked up the production, Michael Bourn’s has dropped. He is hitting .248 with a .329 OBP since July 1.
  • Ben Sheets may have had his best outing as a Brave yet in his last start. Sheets went 7.1 innings, allowing one run on seven hits. In four of Sheets’ five starts, he has allowed one run or fewer.
  • Jair Jurrjens was recently sent back down to the minors after being given another chance with the Braves last month. In July, Jurrjens struggled again, allowing 17 earned runs (20 total) in 18.2 innings. Jurrjens’ struggles may be due to arm wear. He has lost a few miles per hour on his fastball, which we saw when he faced the Mets in April.
  • Craig Kimbrel is having another outstanding season for Atlanta. Kimbrel has a 1.26 ERA in 43 innings this season, and has a 0.75 ERA since June 1.
  • Let’s go Mets!

Morning Links: July 24, 2012

Here are this morning’s Mets links:

  • The Mets imploded in the 10th innin last night, losing 8-2 to the Nationals to drop to 47-49. Chris Young pitched well and Ike Davis tied it up late, but Pedro Beato got rocked in the top of the tenth. (Post, Box Score)
  • Sandy Alderson told reporters before yesterday’s game that they would not be major buyers at the trade deadline. The only moves the Mets would make are ones that would help them in 2013 and beyond. (ESPN New York)
  • In order to make room for Matt Harvey on the roster, the Mets have to send someone to Triple-A Buffalo. Bob Klapisch reports it will be the struggling Lucas Duda that gets sent down. (@BobKlap)
  • Frank Francisco will begin his rehab assignment today in Brooklyn. Francisco threw two bullpen sessions this weekend. (ESPN New York)
  • The Braves made a big move yesterday by agreeing to a deal that would send Ryan Dempster to Atlanta. There is only one obstacle in the way of the deal now: Dempster’s approval. (@MLBBowman)
  • The Marlins also made a blockbuster deal yesterday. They dealt Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Tigers in return for Jacob Turner and two other prospects. (@Pgammo)
  • The Mets battle the Nationals tonight at Citi Field as R.A. Dickey faces off against Gio Gonzalez. First pitch is at 7:10. (MLB.com Preview)

Phillies Working On Deal With Hamels, Other Trade Deadline Notes

Cole Hamels and the Phillies front office are reportedly ‘moving in the right direction’ on a contract extension, according to Jon Heyman. The Phillies have been looking to sign Hamels to a Matt Cain-type extension, while Hamels is looking for much more than that. The Giants signed Cain to a five-year, $112.5 million deal this April. Hamels wants something closer to Johan Santana's $137.5 million and possibly more. He may be able to get over $150 million if he hits the free agent market this offseason.

Here are more trade deadline notes from around Major League Baseball (Click “Continue Reading”):

  • The White Sox have acquired Astros reliever Brett Myers today. Myers, 31, has posted a 3.52 ERA in 30.2 innings this season and was linked to the Mets a few weeks back.
  • The Nationals are looking for a starting pitcher to replace Stephen Strasburg when he hits his innings limit later this season. However, the Nationals aren’t interested in giving up any top prospects.
  • Zack Grainke has been offered an extension worth close to $100 million by the Brewers. However, it doesn’t appear as though he will sign it any time soon, leaving the Brewers in a tough situation. The Braves have been one team linked to Greinke. They will likely be going after a top-of-the-rotation starter over the next week and a half.

Series Preview: Mets Open Up Second Half With Three In Atlanta

Tonight at 7:35, the Mets begin a three-game series against the Braves at Turner Field.

The Braves ended the first half 46-39, four games behind the Nationals and a half a game in front of the Mets in the NL East. They finished up the first half with a devastating sweep of the Phillies.

The Braves have been a balanced team this season and haven’t been particularly great at anything. Their bullpen ERA is 13th in baseball and their starters’ ERA ranks 18th. On offense, they are 13th in on-base percentage and 14th in slugging percentage.

On paper this season, they should have had a fantastic pitching staff. However, they suffered a big blow last month, losing young ace Brandon Beachey. Since then, they have experimented with young prospects to fill in. The Braves have reportedly been interested in acquiring an ace before the July 31 trade deadline. Zack Greinke, Matt Garza, and others could be targeted by the Atlanta front office. They also recently signed Ben Sheets, who will be on the mound on Sunday.

On offense, the Braves are pretty average. Jason Heyward has had a nice season, hitting .272 with 14 home runs. Michael Bourn is hitting a career-high .311 at the plate. However, Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla have had down years. Uggla has only hit 12 home runs and is batting .221. Freeman, their 22 year-old first baseman who had an excellent rookie campaign last year, has seen his batting average drop by 20 points and his on-base percentage drop by 30 points.

Pitching Matchups:

Game 1- Tonight 7:35

Chris Young (2-2, 3.41 ERA) vs. Tim Hudson (7-4, 3.56 ERA)

Game 2- Saturday 4:05

R.A. Dickey (12-1, 2.40 ERA) vs. Tommy Hanson (10-5, 3.71 ERA)

Game 3- Sunday 1:35

Johan Santana (6-5, 3.24 ERA) vs. Ben Sheets (Has not pitched this year)

Notes:

  • Jonny Venters was placed on the DL about a week ago. Normally, this wouldn’t be a huge deal. However, with all the left-handed bats in the Mets lineup, Venters being out means Terry Collins has one less thing to worry about in the late innings.
  • 22 year-old shortstop Andrelton Simmons was placed on the DL three days ago with a finger injury. Simmons was batting .296 in 115 at-bats for the Braves this season.
  • Ben Sheets will be making his first start since July 19, 2010.
  • How is Tim Hudson still so good? He is 36 (turning 37 on Saturday) and he is still pitching just as well as he was five years ago. The guy is the picture of consistency.
  • Johan Santana’s ankle is fine. He will almost certainly be good to go on Sunday…

What Will The Rest Of The NL East Be Doing At The Deadline?

Well, it’s not just transaction season for the Mets. The rest of the National League East may also be wheeling and dealing towards the deadline. Here’s a team-by-team breakdown.

Nationals- buyers

With an excellent first half and nowhere to go but up, the Nationals will surely be looking to upgrade their lineup as the trade deadline approaches.

The Nationals’ pitching staff is fine. They’re first in baseball in ERA, WHIP, and Batting Average Against, as well as third in quality starts. They have a dominant rotation and a stellar closer in the back of their bullpen. That’s not what needs help. It’s the lineup that has people questioning the legitimacy of the Nationals.

There are definitely some veteran bats on the market. With Steve Lombardozzi and Michael Morse both struggling in the corner outfield spots, the Nationals could look to add a power bat to a home run-hungry lineup. Who knows? Maybe they could even be involve in the Justin Upton sweepstakes.

Braves- buyers
The Braves will be big-time buyers this summer. With Randall Delgado and Mike Minor struggling this season, their clear weakness is the starting rotation. They did recently get Jair Jurrjens back after a lengthy stint in the minors and he seems to be back to his old self, but they still need another starter or two.

The Braves seem to be looking at an impact player to add to their roster. If they add a starter, it will likely be one of the better ones on the market, such as Zack Greinke, Matt Garza, or Cole Hamels. An ace at the top of the rotation could put the Braves over the top.

Atlanta is another team that could be involved in Justin Upton trade talks. Buster Olney yesterday suggested (on Twitter) that the Braves would be a good fit, as Upton would provide payroll stability and would balance the lineup. He said if the Braves would make a move for Upton, it would be centered around Martin Prado and pitching prospects.

The biggest buyers in the division may just be the Atlanta Braves. They certainly have the pitching and desire to make some big deals.

Marlins- staying put

The Marlins may be stuck in the middle. After making some big-money deals this summer, signing Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes to huge deals, Miami may not be able to afford to acquire too much later this month.

However, with a young nucleus of players and a brighter (f only slightly brighter) future ahead of them, the Marlins probably won’t be sellers either.

There haven’t been too many trade rumors surrounding the Marlins so far and there probably won’t be anytime soon. I epect them to stay put at the deadline and make a run next year.

Phillies- sellers

Oh how the tide has turned! After a terrible first half in which the they fell to 13 games under .500 and 14 games back in the division, the Phillies have no shot at the playoffs this year. They will be sellers.

The Phillies certainly have a lot to dump on their roster. If contract negotiations fail with Cole Hamels, he will surely be traded. They also have Shane Victorino, another upcoming free agent with some value.Both could fetch a decent price in the trade market.

I think the Phillies really got unlucky this year. Had Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Roy Halladay been healthy all season, we would be talking about them as buyers. However, they weren’t and their future is at risk now if they have to deal Victorino and Hamels. Even with a healthy team next year, I doubt they can even make the playoffs without those two returning.

Series Preview: Mets Go to Altanta to Battle Braves

Starting tonight at 7:10, the Mets begin a three-game series with the red-hot Braves.

The Mets are coming off a series win in Philadelphia, in which they took two out of three. In the first game, R.A. Dickey outdueled Cliff Lee, allowing just one run over seven innings of work. Jason Bay hit his first home run of the year, a two-run blast, which sealed the deal for the Mets in a 5-2 victory. The bullpen went the rest of the way, shutting down the Phillies. Jon Niese dominated the second game, throwing 6.2 shutout innings. Niese followed up a no-hit bid with an even more impressive outing. The big story of the game, however, was the impressive comeback of David Wright. Wright had missed three games due to a broken pinkie finger and a DL stint seemed imminent. Instead, Wright played through the pain and went 3-5 with a home run. The Mets won 5-0. On Sunday, the Mets went for the sweep and were unsuccessful. Mike Pelfrey managed to give up just one run, but the bullpen blew the game. They allowed two runs in the seventh and five in the eighth, losing 8-2.

The Braves have been on a roll. Since losing their first four games, including three to the Mets, Atlanta has won five straight. They are coming off a series sweep of the Brewers. Jair Jurrjens was the only starter to not pitch extremely well, giving up five runs in his outing. Otherwise, the Braves are on a roll and will look to continue their hotstreak at home against the Mets.

Here are the pitching matchups:

Game 1- Tonight 7:10

Dillon Gee (0-1, 5.06 ERA)- Gee was solid in his first outing of the year against the Nationals, throwing 5.1 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. He also struck out six. Gee is 2-2 with a 3.46 ERA in seven starts against the Braves in his career.

Tommy Hanson (1-1, 2.70 ERA)- Hanson allowed the only run of the game in a pitching duel against Johan Santana and the Mets on Opening Day, earning the loss. He walked three in the outing. In his last start against the Brewers, Hanson allowed two runs in five innings while striking out eight.

Game 2- Tuesday 7:10

Johan Santana (0-1, 0.90 ERA)- Johan upped his pitch count in his last start, a major sign of progress and health. Johan threw 99 pitches (56 strikes) against Washington in his last start. He allowed one run on five hits over five innings, but earned the loss due to the struggling Mets offense. His third start of the season will likely be a full one for Santana- one in which he can finally let it rip.

Randall Delgado (1-0, 3.60)- The 46th ranked prospect in baseball according to Baseball America is getting a shot in the rotation. In his first start this season, Delgado allowed two runs over five innings in a win over the Astros.

Game 3- Wednesday 12:10

R.A. Dickey (2-0, 2.08 ERA)- Dickey has been sensational this season, earning wins in each of his first two starts. Dickey opened up the season with a six inning performance against the Braves on April 7, allowing just two runs. In his last start, he allowed only one run over seven innings. Dickey’s knuckleball clicked for the first time this year in his last start. The warm weather should help Dickey tremendously.

Thoughts:

Despite the bad loss yesterday, the Mets have a real shot to win this series. They proved themselves worthy on Friday and Saturday with two very impressive wins. They have pitched well this year, and despite the offense only being spotty, the Mets have managed to go 6-3 against some stiff competition. If the bullpen doesn’t repeat the seven-run performance from Sunday, they will be fine. Part of yesterday’s struggle was mismanagement by Terry Collins, using a longman in a setup man’s role. Terry won’t make the same mistake again.

Let’s go Mets!

The Yankees are playing two games today. I know they’re in Baltimore, but it makes me think that the Mets could have played today if they pushed back the game to 7:00.

Sat. and Sun. games called off

Saturday and sunday’s game have been cancelled due to the hurricane.

Series Preview: vs. Braves

HURRICANE IRENE is coming… to Queens (Insert dramatic music)

Hurricane Irene will likely cancel Sunday’s Met game at Citi Field. Here is the forecast:

Irene is supposed to make landfall on Connecticut, Long Island, or New Jersey as a Catagory 2 hurricane, packing sustained winds of over 100 miles per hour. Stay safe everybody!

kaileeisraeli:

wontyousavemesf:

Legendary Bobby Cox throws the first pitch.. and then gets thrown out of the game by Timmons.

:’) 

Haha Bobby…

Aug 6

Rain delay…

Right now, there’s a rain delay at Citi Field. The game should start soon, with the rain starting to dissipate…

UPDATE

The First pitch is now scheduled for 8:10 p.m.

Aug 5

Pre-game: Mets (55-55) vs. Braves (64-48)

CLICK THE TITLE FOR THE FULL PRE-GAME.

It’s the start of a series that will either make or break the Mets season, as they face off against the Braves in a three game series starting tonight at Citi Field. Here is the Met lineup:

1. Jose Reyes SS

2. Justin Turner 2B

3. Dan Murphy 1B

4. David Wright 3B

5. Angel Pagan CF

6. Jason Bay LF

7. Lucas Duda RF

8. Josh Thole C

9. R.A. Dickey RHP (5-9, 3.77)

vs. Tim Hudson (10-7, 3.31)

Aug 4

Series Preview: Braves 8/5-8/7 at Citi Field

Braves get Bourn in five-player deal