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Jul 21, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Evan Gattis (24) hits a single in the second inning against the Chicago White Sox at US Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves Series Preview: New York Mets (7/22 - 7/25)

Coming off a series in which the Braves lost two of three to the White Sox, the Braves packed their bags and head to Flushing, New York to square off in a four game set against the New York Mets.

The Braves depleted outfield is expecting Jason Heyward to return Monday and it is most likely he will play centerfield, where he has played only four times in his career, until the ailing B.J. Upton returns back in the lineup.

The Mets are coming off a three-game series in which they took two of three from the Phillies and are riding a wave of confidence, as they have won the last seven of 10 and are now just eight games under the .500 mark.

Let’s take a look at the probable starting pitchers for the four game set.

Monday: Julio Teheran (7-5, 3.35 ERA) vs Dillon Gee (7-7, 4.32 ERA)

Teheran has moved one spot up in the rotation ahead of Kris Medlen. This will be the fourth time that Teheran has pitched against the Mets. The last time out against New York in New York, Teheran took the loss allowing just one run over 6 2/3 innings. In his last three starts, Teheran is 1-1 with a 4.53 ERA and has struck out 13 batters.

Teheran will be facing off against Dillon Gee for the Mets. Gee is coming off an outing against the Pirates where he only allowed one unearned run over 6 2/3 innings pitched and is looking to continue the hot streak the Mets have been on. In his career against the Braves, Gee is 3-4 with a 3.49 ERA and has struck out 43 batters.

Tuesday: Kris Medlen (6-9, 3.64 ERA) vs Carlos Torres (0-1, 0.79 ERA)

Medlen has been the one of this Braves staff that has seemingly had the bad luck this year. In his last start before the All-Star Break, Medlen allowed four runs against the Reds in a loss to Cincinnati and has allowed seven or more hits in his last 10 outings. In Medlen’s last three starts, he’s 1-2 with a 7.63 ERA and has struck out 10 batters in 15 1/3 innings pitched.

Medlen will be opposed by Carlos Torres. Torres is taking over for the injured Shaun Marcum and pitched well in his last outing against the Pirates–allowing just one run one five hits over five innings. The Mets are hoping his streak of good pitching will carry over into the second half of the season.

Wednesday: Tim Hudson (7-7, 4.08 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hefner (4-7, 3.93 ERA)

It appeared that the break and a trip to the south side of Chicago allowed Tim Hudson to find his sinker again as Hudson picked up the win in his most recent outing against the White Sox. He’s 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA and 13 strikeouts in his last three starts, all in the month of July.

Hudson will be squaring off against Playboy owner and all-around good guy Mets pitcher Hugh Jeremy Hefner. Hefner had a long streak of success come to an end Friday, when he was pulled before he could record an out in the third inning on Friday and allowed eight runs on 10 hits. Against the Braves, Hefner is 0-1 with a 5.84 ERA in 12 1/3 innings pitched. Before the outing on Friday, Hefner has an ERA of 1.76 in his last eight starts.

Thursday: Paul Maholm* (9-9, 4.41) vs Zack Wheeler (3-1 3.58 ERA).

The spot where Paul Maholm pitches has been vacated since Maholm left the game Saturday with what’s being called a sprained wrist. It is doubtful the Maholm will pitch this game against the Mets. If Maholm is unable to go against the Mets, then it is possible that Brandon Beachy could make his 2013 debut or the Braves may go with Alex Wood to fill that spot until Maholm’s wrist heals.

Whoever is pitching for the Braves will be facing off against Zack Wheeler, who was just called up a short time ago. Wheeler has had to work in his most recent start, against the Phillies, giving up two runs on seven hits and throwing 106 pitches in 4 2/3 innings. He fared well against the Braves in Atlanta in his big league debut and will now look to do so at Citi Field. In his lone start against the Braves, Wheeler pitched six innings, did not allow a run, and struck out seven.

Quick Hits:

Kameron Loe was promoted Sunday after he was signed on May 11th by the Braves. Loe made appearances for both the Cubs and Mariners this year.

Brian McCann has homered in three of the past four games. B-Mac continues to get hot and with the Braves struggling to score runs, they will look to rely on him, but hopefully not too much, against the Mets.

Reed Johnson has five hits in his last six pinch-hit appearances.

Since the blown save in Cincinnati, Craig Kimbrel has converted 17 straight saves, allowing one run and 12 hits while striking out 36 in 23 innings.

What to expect:

This is another big series for the Braves. They were fortunate enough that both the Phillies and Nationals lost Saturday and Sunday, and still hold a 6.5 game lead in the division. But it won’t be an easy task against the Mets as they have played great baseball since the All-Star Break and even before that.

One thing that may work in advantage to the Braves is that the Mets are a mere 19-28 at home. If the Braves can split, if not take three, against the Mets it will put them back in the right direction in their quest for October.

Tags: Atlanta Braves New York Mets

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