MLB monitoring Hurricane Ian for crucial Braves series with Mets

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

WASHINGTON – At this point, the National League East has the most exciting division race in baseball. As the division hangs in the balance, the Braves and Mets have a crucial three-game series at Truist Park this weekend.

That is, if Hurricane Ian does not interrupt their plans.

ExploreMore AJC coverage of the Braves

The storm could bring heavy rain to Atlanta this weekend, putting the series in jeopardy. The issue here: The Braves and Mets need to play these games because they will go a long way in determining who wins the division. The regular season is almost over, and only one off-day separates the teams’ regular-season finale and the start of the wild-card round (in which the NL East’s second-place team will play).

All of these factors make this a difficult situation.

According to a person with knowledge of the situation, MLB has had conversations with both the Braves and the Mets regarding their coming series. The discussions have not included specific relocation sites.

It is important to note that, as of Tuesday afternoon, MLB was not at a point where a potential change of plans is close to becoming reality. That, of course, could change with more information.

MLB has been monitoring the forecast and is communicating with its experts, including the weather service it uses.

In the past, MLB has relocated multiple series when circumstances have called for it. In 2017, following Hurricane Harvey, the Astros and Rangers played at the Tampa Bay Rays’ stadium. In 2008, Hurricane Ike forced the Astros to play two games against the Cubs in Milwaukee instead of Houston.

As of Tuesday, weather forecasts projected rain Friday and Saturday in Atlanta.

“A little,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said when asked if he has followed the forecast. “I’ve seen it on the Weather Channel and everything. Looks like it’s going to be dicey.”

At this time of year, MLB will show urgency to play the games safely and to the fullest extent possible.

If the series were to be moved to another site, it would be a bummer for the Braves, who would lose three important home games.

“I don’t even think about that,” Snitker said.

Arcia, Contreras in the lineup again

On Tuesday, Snitker put William Contreras behind the plate for the second day in a row. Orlando Arcia also was in the starting lineup for the second consecutive day.

Snitker said he liked Contreras catching left-hander Kyle Muller because the two previously worked together in Triple-A. The manager saw it as a good opportunity to get Travis d’Arnaud off his feet. D’Arnaud is expected to catch Wednesday’s game before Thursday’s off-day.

Arcia hit a two-run home run in Monday’s win over the Nationals.

“Just liked what Arcia can do,” Snitker said. “He did a good job when Ozzie (Albies) went down (in June).”

Muller has developed in Triple-A

Before reporters walked into Snitker’s office after Monday’s game, the manager was talking with Ben Sestanovich, the Braves’ assistant general manager of player development.

Snitker said he told Sestanovich something like this: “The best we thing we do is leave them down there to pitch and keep them regular and they stay on routine and they pitch and they learn about themselves and they figure things out, and they come up here and they’re more ready to tackle this.”

He was talking about leaving pitchers in Triple-A to develop, and he said it because rookie Bryce Elder had thrown a shutout for the Braves.

But the sentiment also applies to Muller, who spent this season in Triple-A.

“You can’t get enough of that down there, that experience,” Snitker said Tuesday. “I know everybody wants to be here, and that’s great, but the more you play this game, the better you’re going to get at it. Not everybody can be here. … And if they’re playing, they’re developing.”

Two-out success

We have discussed the Braves offense’s two-out runs in this space before.

As the regular season nears its end, the Braves entered Tuesday leading the majors with 314 two-out runs this season. The Dodgers were in second with 312. Last season, the Dodgers and Braves tied for the most two-out runs in the National League with 326, while they were second (Dodgers) and third (Braves) in 2020.