After a semi-disappointing split with the Washington Nationals, it is time for the Braves to square off against one of the division rivals in the New York Mets. It is the first series of the season between the two teams, and we’ll take a game-by-game look at what to expect.
The Mike Minor show! Minor has been tremendous for the better part of a full season and he enters Friday’s game with a 3.13 ERA so far in 2013. He’ll square off against the injury-prone veteran Shaun Marcum. Marcum is capable of big-time results when he’s right, but he has been less-than-stellar so far this season, posting an ERA of 7.94 and WHIP over 2.00. Minor should be able to establish his stuff early against an unimpressive Mets lineup, and frankly, this is the most favorable pitching match-up of the weekend, setting things up for a series-opening win.
Raise your hand if you know what to expect from Julio Teheran. I certainly don’t at this point, but the youngster has been much more effective in his last two starts. His season ERA is still at a paltry 5.08, but he has allowed 2 runs or less in each of his past 2 starts, and it looks as if he may be settling in. If there is one thing to watch for, it would be the volume of change-ups that he uses (i.e. that are called by Laird), but if he is locating, he’s capable of beating the Mets with a limited arsenal. The Mets will counter with Niese, and he has been very solid in 2013. Niese has allowed 3-or-fewer runs in 5 of his 6 outings, and in the past, his left-handedness would have been an issue for Atlanta. Fortunately, this current version of the Braves isn’t as left-hand dominant, so the match-up is much, much better this time around against the Mets lefty.
All eyes are on Atlanta for Sunday’s tilt. Matt Harvey has been the best young pitcher in the entire league this season, posting a 1.56 ERA in 6 starts, and striking out 46 batters in 40.1 innings. Harvey isn’t a fluke either, as the stuff matches the production, and if he can locate his pitches, the Braves could be in for a big-time challenge. He’ll be opposed by the newly-minted, 200-game winner in Tim Hudson. Pitching match-ups that feature a “old vs. new” vibe are always fun, and this is the epitome of that. For a little “extra”, this game is being televised nationally on TBS, and this will be a fun one.
After back-to-back rough series, it would be great to see the Braves get on track in a big way with a dominant series against the inferior Mets. The rivalry is very real, and Braves fans everywhere will be focused on this series in a big way. Stay tuned.