Sunday will be the series finale between National League East opponents when the Atlanta Braves travel to Citi Field to take on the New York Mets. The first-place Braves have already won the first two games of the series and would love to sweep New York and extend their lead in the division. Currently, they are 6.5 games ahead of the Phillies for the top spot and 13 ahead of the Mets. The Mets’ Wild Card hopes are just as much a pipe dream at this point, being 7.5 games back. Their 9-18 record in the month of June has not helped their playoff hopes at all. Meanwhile, the Braves have taken full advantage of the Phillies’ poor month and taken the lead in the division, going 20-7 in June.
Young stud and former top-10 pick Max Fried will get the start for the Atlanta Braves. In his first full season in the majors, Fried has dazzled. Entering his 17th start, Fried is 9-3 with a 3.96 ERA. He has actually pitched better than the box score would suggest. He has a 3.51 xFIP even with having a .320 BABIP against.
Fried has been on a roll lately, turning in quality starts in three of his last four starts. He has gone exactly six innings in each of those three, giving up two runs twice and three runs the other time. It was his eighth time this season giving up three runs or less.
A big reason for his recent success is the emergence of his devastating slider. With his curveball struggling, he has started to throw the slider more, and it has been working. According to Fangraphs, his “slider runs above average” rating (where 0 is average) is 5.1. It’s been a terrific addition to his repertoire.
For the Mets, Noah Syndergaard is expected to return from the injured list, where he has been since June 16. He threw five innings on a rehab assignment on Tuesday. Syndergaard will take the hill and make his 16th start of the season. So far, Thor is 5-4 with a 4.55 ERA and has been very up and down this season.
Some starts, he goes out and dominates like Mets fans know and love, such as his second-to-last start against the Rockies. He went seven shutout innings, giving up only one hit and striking out seven batters. On the other end, he has given up more than five runs three times. His strikeout numbers are lower than his career average, and his walk numbers are higher. This season has been very weird for Syndergaard, and maybe that is due to the constant trade rumors swirling over his head.
Batter To Watch
Pete Alonso. Pete Alonso. And Pete Alonso. The rookie first baseman is absolutely insane, already breaking the Mets rookie home run record before the end of June. With Alonso batting .280 with 28 homers and 62 RBI, Fried is going to have to be careful.
The Braves are really, really good. The Mets are not. Fried can dominate on any given night, as can Syndergaard, but the Braves lineup is too good. Take the Braves.
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