The Subway Series is nice and all (especially when you win two of three), but it’s nice to get back to games that matter a little more. And the Mets (28-15) sure have a series that matters up next, as they head to Turner Field to face the Atlanta Braves (26-18). The Mets currently sit two-and-a-half games ahead of Atlanta for first place in the NL East. The Braves have not been playing quite as well as the Mets have lately, losing two of three to the Red Sox last weekend and three of four to the lowly Nationals before that.
In Tuesday’s game, the suddenly reborn Jorge Sosa (3-0, 2.25) faces his former team, who counter with Kyle Davies (1-2, 5.17). Wednesday’s game features Oliver Perez (5-3, 2.90) and Chuck James (4-3, 4.15). Thursday’s finale will pit Tom Glavine (5-1, 3.43) against his former teammate John Smoltz (6-2, 2.85). Again.
Game 1: Kyle Davies
What’s the Story? To see my original scouting report on Davies, please look here.
This Year: Davies made his first start of the season against the Mets and pitched quite well, going just shy of seven innings while allowing just two runs on four hits and three walks, while striking out eight. He did, however, give up back-to-back homeruns to Shawn Green and Ramon Castro, as well as a triple to Jose Reyes. Davies generally did a good job of locating his fastball and recorded some big strikeouts to strand runners to limit the scoring to those two homers.
What to Expect: Davies’ command has been better of late, as he’s solidified his spot in the Braves’ rotation which he didn’t really have coming out of Spring Training. He’ll try to continue that trend by getting ahead of hitters with his fastball and finishing them off with his curveball or changeup. He’ll make a mistake or two, and can be prone to leaving a fastball up in the zone or hanging a breaking pitch. I think the Mets will have an easier game with him this time around.
Game 2: Chuck James
What’s the Story? To see my original scouting report on James, please look here.
This Year: James got beat up on April 21st at Shea Stadium. James pitched five-and-a-third, giving up six runs on ten hits. He walked a pair and struck out three. He had problems with his old nemesis the homer: Castro, Jose Reyes, and Damion Easley each hit one.
What to Expect: James is really the rare one-pitch pitcher. His fastball is deceptive enough, and he’s smart enough in how he uses it, to succeed to some degree despite lacking a great secondary offering. He’ll change speeds and locations with the fastball in an attempt to keep Mets hitters off-balance and will mix in his change and slider occasionally. But the Mets hit him hard last time by being aggressive and by trusting James’s extreme flyball nature. The Mets, a patient team with a lot of pop in their bats, are an especially poor match for James.
Game 3: John Smoltz
What’s the Story? To see my original scouting report on Smoltz, please look here.
This Year: Smoltz is already making his third start against the Mets, each opposite Glavine. His first start was pretty fair, as he went six innings and allowed just two runs. But he did allow eleven batters to reach base—via seven hits and four walks—and allowed a homer to Paul Lo Duca. His second start was less effective, as he got knocked out in the sixth inning. He allowed six runs on nine hits and two walks and gave up a homerun to Green. In both starts the Mets managed to force him to exit early by running up his pitch count quickly.
What to Expect: Smoltzie dislocated his pinky against the Nationals, and I was concerned that he’d have trouble throwing his splitter and changeup. Despite poor weather, he showed few effects from the injury in his last start against the Red Sox, when he shut their potent offense down for seven innings. He did have trouble throwing both pitches at first, but regained them as the game moved along. Still, Smoltz might be even more reliant on his fastball-slider combination than usual which will make him a little easier to face.
Overall: I like the Mets’ matchups for this series. Davies beat the Mets the last time out, but he’s been thoroughly average since, and the Mets seem to have Chuck James’s number. Of course, I really wouldn’t be surprised if the Braves crushed their former teammate Sosa, either. Smoltz really has been quite hittable for the Mets’ bats this season, but every time he goes out there, Glavine pitches worse. Due to my lack of an imagination, I’ll predict that trend continues. So, I’m picking the Mets to win the first two while losing the third straight Smoltz-Glavine reunion. It’s a big series whose outcome could help define the Braves’ playoff chances. A sweep puts them in first place, while a Mets sweep pushes them five-and-a-half games out. It should be a fun series to watch.