Atlanta Braves at New York Mets Pick
Atlanta Braves (48-34) at New York Mets (37-45)
When: 7 p.m., Friday, June 28
Where: Citi Field, New York
Moneyline: ATL +110/NYM -132
Runline: Braves +1.5/Mets -1.5
Starting Pitchers: Mike Soroka (8-1, 2.07 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) vs. Jacob deGrom (4-6, 3.25 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)
The Mets’ struggles continued in Philadelphia, and it might have knocked them out of this race for the National League’s Eastern Division title, as the Phillies took four of four from the Mets in Pennsylvania to get themselves back on track and send New York hurtling further toward Marlin territory. The Mets have now lost five in a row, and it wasn’t just that they lost, it was how they lost.
Consider the way they lost the final game to the Phillies: holding a 3-1 lead with their closer going to the mound in the ninth. That should have been enough for the Mets to get a victory, but instead, New York gave up five runs and allowed the Phillies to finish off the sweep. The Mets’ bullpen is a complete mess, and it’s giving opponents some hope in every game they play, as no lead is too big to be safe from the pen.
If you’re looking for reasons why the Mets are spiraling out of control, this would be one of the biggest. A pitching staff needs to have confidence that the bullpen is going to get the job done should they exit the game, and the Mets’ pen provides the exact opposite experience. Even when a team has good pitchers like Jacob deGrom, good pitchers lose heart when they don’t see success, and that means success could be a long time coming in Queens for the rest of the season.
Mike Soroka has been something special for Atlanta this season, getting off to an 8-1 start and posting a WHIP below 1. Even with a case of a forearm issue suggesting that Soroka might be on his way to the injured list before the season is over, there’s just no denying how good Soroka has been for the majority of the year.
In nine of his past 10 starts, he’s managed to hold his opponent to three runs or less, and the number remains impressive if you hold it to one run or less, as he’s only allowed the Mets and Pirates to break through and score more than a single run against them. But the fact that those are two of his most recent starts suggests that he might be pitching injured, which could lead to disaster the next time he takes the mound.
Two and Two
Fans of old game shows might recognize that as the tagline of the legendary Chuck Woolery, and it’s also a great way to describe deGrom’s past few starts. In his past four trips to the slab, deGrom has come away with two earned runs given up, not a bad number at all. However, two of those occasions have shown him to be a victim of the New York bullpen, as he left with a no-decision and the Mets took a loss in the process. The good news with taking de Grom is that he’s been pitching himself deeper into games, seemingly to try to avoid the bullpen issues, but with the Mets’ bullpen, no lead is safe.
The rivalry remains strong between these long-time foes, and it’s led to a series that has been close in terms of games, but not in terms of individual results. The Braves lead it four games to three this season, and not a single game has been decided by less than two runs.
- The Braves have won their past five games following a loss.
- The Braves are 10-1 when they allow five or more runs in their previous game.
- The Mets have dropped five straight to the NL East.
- The Mets have lost their past seven series openers.
- The under is 4-1 in the Braves’ past five games.
- The over is 4-1-2 in the Mets’ past seven Friday games.
The temperature is projected to be 74 degrees at first pitch in Queens.
The Mets aren’t going to play this bad forever, and the fact that Soroka barely went two innings his past start suggests that there’s something that’s going to go wrong for him relatively quickly. I don’t love the idea of picking against the young phenom, but I don’t think he’s pitching like himself as of late, and that usually means that a significant injury, perhaps even Tommy John, isn’t far away.
I’m skittish about taking the Mets here, but even more skittish about taking a hurler who might be a ticking time bomb before going to a lengthy DL stint. Reluctantly, I’ll take the Mets to hang on to a lead and snap their skid.
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