7:20 PM EST – Line: Braves -136, Over/Under: 10
Division Rivals meet tonight in the dirty south, as the Atlanta Braves play host to the surging New York Mets in the second leg of a three-game series from SunTrust Park in Atlanta, Georgia. Left for dead as recently as the All-Star Break, the Mets (61-57, 3rd in NL East) have suddenly turned themselves into the most unlikely of contenders, going 21-7 since the All-Star Break, allowing them to make up a wealth of ground in the Standings. Heading into this meeting with Atlanta, New York currently find themselves a single game out of the final Wild Card in the National League, which is a far cry from where they stood roughly a month ago when they were ten games below .500. Indeed, after such a rough first half of the campaign, Mickey Callaway is pushing all the right buttons for a club that in hindsight stuck to their guns and refused to sell the proverbial farm at the Trade Deadline, despite the rest of the world advising them to do so. Since July 31st, they’ve improved from the plate, batting a season-high .270 with Sixty-Six Runs, Twenty-Four Doubles, and Twenty-Three Home Runs, as well as on the mound, where the Starting Rotation has continued to be a strength, going 5-1 with a 3.12 ERA and 1.266 WHIP. Getting the nod tonight for the Mets will be Steven Matz (7-7, 4.49 ERA, 21 GS, 110.1 IP, 120 H, 55 ER, 20 HR, 34 BB, 104 K, 1.396 WHIP), who after a brief stint in the Bullpen, has returned to the Starting Rotation. Back in early July, Callaway sent the 28-Year Old to help alleviate the most troubling of their problems: a Bullpen that was riddled with injuries, and as a result led the Majors at that time with a staggering Twenty-One Blown Saves in Forty Appearances. Now with their cadre of Relivers mostly intact, Matz has returned to the Rotation, where he figures to play a role in New York’s push for the Playoffs. After doing his duty as a member of the Pitching Staff, the New York native has been solid since being reinstated as a Starter, going 2-1 in Five Starts since the All-Star Break with a solid 3.38 ERA nd 1.159 WHIP, Twenty-Six Strikeouts and Five Walks. When we last saw him, Matz logged another Quality Start in a 7-2 victory over the Miami Marlins, yielding a pair of Earned Runs on Seven Hits over the duration of Seven Innings, with Seven Strikeouts and Two Walks. Furthermore, he’s enjoyed a great deal of success against tonight’s opponent, the Braves, going 5-1 against them in Ten Career Starts, registering a 3.61 ERA and 1.166 WHIP. In 2019, he’s faced off against Atlanta on three occasions thus far, once as a Reliever, yielding Nine Earned Runs on Thirteen Hits over just as many Innings.
Meanwhile, after getting red-hot in the month of June, and most of July, the Braves (70-50, 1st in NL East) have begun to cool off a bit of late, going 6-5 in the month of August, and 16-13 overall since the All-Star Break. With that said, Atlanta still owns a considerable lead within the Division, leading the Washington Nationals by Six Games in the Standings. Like their opponent tonight, Brian Snitker’s charges have experienced their fair share of troubles in the Bullpen, which is where the club focused the majority of their resources at the Trade Deadline. In two separate deals, they added a pair of quality, veteran Relievers to their ranks, which the club hopes will be enough to stabilize their greatest weakness come the Playoffs. Shane Greene (0-3, 2.14 ERA, 43 G, 22 SV, 42.0 IP, 32 H, 10 ER, 7 HR, 14 BB, 47 K, 1.095 WHIP) came over from the Detroit Tigers, where he spent that last season-plus as their Closer, racking Fifty-Four Saves in 104 Appearances, while recording a stellar 1.18 ERA in 2019 before the Trade. Furthermore, Mark Melancon (4-2, 3.96 ERA, 48 G, 1 SV, 50.0 IP, 55 H, 22 ER, 3 HR, 17 BB, 49 K, 1.440 WHIP) was brought in from San Francisco, where he spent the previous two seasons largely as a set-up man for the Giants. The 34-Year Old Righthander went 4-2 with a 3.50 ERA in Forty-Three Appearances with his former club. With that said, as sterling as their combined resumes may be, they appear to need some more time to acclimate themselves to their new surroundings; Greene has gone 0-1 with a bloated 1.25 ERA in Five Appearances since the Trade, while Melancon hasn’t been much better sporting a 9.82 ERA in just as many games. Speaking of taking a while to settle in, the same can be said for Dallas Keuchel (3-5, 4.83 ERA, 10 GS, 59.2 IP, 61 H, 32 ER, 11 HR, 20 BB, 42 K, 1.358 WHIP), whom the Braves signed as a Free Agent back in early June. The former Cy Young basically relinquished the first two months of the season in an effort to receive a better contract, which ultimately arrived when Atlanta signed him to a one-year, $13 Million pact, essentially making the Lefthander a glorified rental for 2019. Needless to say, it sure does appear that his former employers, the Houston Astros, were in the right to part ways with the 31-Year Old; Keuchel relinquished the most hits of any Pitcher in the American League a year ago, with his highest WHIP in five years. Indeed, it appears that he’s long removed from the ace who won twenty games and lead the league in Shutouts, Innings Pitched, and Whip en route to claiming Cy Young honors back in 2015. When we last saw him, the veteran struggled once more in a 2-9 loss at the Marlins, in which the Lefty was pulled after a just 3.2 Innings of labor in which he was tagged for Eight Earned Runs on Ten Hits, including Three Home Runs. Coming into tonight’s matchup, Keuchel has gone winless in five consecutive Starts.