The Braves lost Wednesday’s series finale versus the Mets 7-3, as New York held back the Braves in the standings.
The Braves are 53-37.
Here are five observations on the Mets-Braves race going forward:
1. You know the story: In 2021, the Mets raced to a nice lead in the division, only to collapse. They were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention before the final week of the season, as their slide lasted months.
Is this a different Mets team?
Charlie Morton thinks so.
“I don’t expect them to just fall off,” he said. “I think if they continue to do what they’ve been doing, they’re going to be a team that’s hard to beat until the end.”
And what have they been doing?
“On a day-to-day basis, they’re not that much fun to pitch to because they’re scrappy, because they’ll take a walk or they’ll take a 10-pitch at-bat, even if it results in an out, and chalk it up as a win,” Morton said. “And those are the lineups you really get frustrated with.”
2. In the three-game series, one Mets starting pitcher went seven innings, another went six and another went 5-1/3. And in 18-1/3 frames, the Braves scored four runs versus New York’s starters.
“All their guys are pretty aggressive,” Matt Olson said. “It seems like they know what they’re set out to do, and they find a way to execute even if their stuff’s not the best that day. If a plan goes wrong, they find a way to limit stuff and get back to work.”
Max Scherzer shut down the Braves on Monday. Chris Bassitt held them in check Wednesday. And New York expects Jacob deGrom, perhaps the best pitcher in baseball when healthy, to return in the second half.
The Braves scored eight runs in three games. None of their starting pitchers went more than five innings.
3. The Mets and Braves are different.
The Braves rely on their power, New York can fight off pitches and make pitchers work. The Mets have more star power in the rotation when healthy, but the Braves, who also possess a great rotation, have a better bullpen when it’s at full strength.
These teams play 12 more games against each other this season.
“They’re playing great baseball, we’re playing great baseball,” Kenley Jansen said. “I like our chances, I like our team. At the end of the day, I like our chances because, from top to bottom, what we have from starters to relievers to offense, we’re in great shape. We’re going to see them again, and hopefully we can be on top at the end of the year.”
4. The Mets took two of three games without regulars Starling Marte and Jeff McNeil. They still don’t have deGrom. Their lineup didn’t look the same.
The Braves know this.
“We’re going to play them a lot more,” manager Brian Snitker said. “They’re going to get guys back, too. They were without two of their regulars, and there’s a starting pitcher out there that’s looming. It’s a good club. Knew that in February.”
The Braves could receive reinforcements, too. Ozzie Albies is expected to return this season. So are Mike Soroka and Kirby Yates.
5. Can we learn anything about these two clubs from this series?
“I don’t know,” Snitker said. “We split a series there, we were a win away from a series win this series. I got to think that the rest of the however many games that we got with them – 12 games that I think we got left with them – are probably going to be pretty good. They’re going to be good ballgames. It’s two good teams going at it.”
Morton learned these Mets might be different.
“They’re just a good team,” he said. “They’re more difficult to pitch to because they’re kind of scrappy. They’re not just giving at-bats away and trying to hit all homers. They’re definitely more selective, they’re more picky, they’ll battle you. That’s from top to bottom.”
Mets, 7, Braves 3 (box score)
Stat to know
68 - The Braves have a plus-68 run differential. The Mets are at plus-74.
“It’s an in-division team who’s on top of the division. There’s a ton of games left, so it’s not like there’s some crazy urgency. But that’s why we play. You want to test yourself against the good teams. They’re above us right now in the division, so it is something you get a little geared up for. But at the same time, it’s not like a press or an urgency situation, more so something to look forward to.” - Olson on the anticipation for this series
The Braves end the pre-All-Star portion of the season with four games in Washington. Kyle Wright will start the first of them, which begins at 7:05 p.m. Thursday.
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