Breaking down the factors that will decide the Mets-Braves NL East race

What will matter more: the Mets schedule or the sizzle of the Braves?

No one has an easier roster than the Mets. No one plays better than the Braves.

With 24 games to go, the Mets have the smoothest run ahead of them. The Braves, with 25 games to play, have a seven-game winning streak and momentum that hasn’t waned since June.

The home stretch has arrived for baseball’s best divisional run.

There are less than four weeks left to settle an NL East that the Mets let slip and the Braves tried to grab. A Mets lead that was 10 ¹/₂ games on June 1 will be a half game as Buck Showalter’s team travels to Miami and the Braves travel to Seattle for the playoffs that begin Friday.

FanGraphs estimates the Mets have a 63.5% chance of winning the division, which sounds more confident than most Queens fans. Here’s a primer on what to expect in another classic Mets-Braves battle:

Left to right: Jacob deGrom, Marcell Ozuna, Francisco Lindor and Ozzie Albies will likely play key roles in the remaining games of the Mets-Braves pennant race.
Jason Szenes; Getty Images; USA TODAY Sports (2)


– According to Tankathon, the Mets have the easiest schedule remaining in the majors – but that was also true for their last two series, when they went 3-3 against the Nationals and Pirates. The Mets have 10 in a row against clubs under .500 through three games in Milwaukee. After the Brewers series, the only quality team the Mets will play will be the Braves themselves, from September 30 to October 30. 2, in Atlanta.

A potential breakup: For their next series, the Mets will miss Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara.

– Coming into play Thursday, the Braves’ remaining schedule was the 12th easiest in baseball. Brian Snitker’s crew is in the middle of a West Coast trip that will go from Seattle to San Francisco. When they return to the East Coast, the Braves will play seven of 11 games against Bryce Harper and the Phillies, who are battling for a playoff spot.

Braves Coach Brian Snitker
Braves Coach Brian Snitker

A potential breakup: The Braves will dodge Mariners ace Luis Castillo and are set to avoid Giants star Logan Webb in the upcoming series.

Health problems

— The Mets have several major concerns. Max Scherzer will miss at least two starts with what the team called left oblique irritation. The Mets are trying to avoid placing Starling Marte on the IL and — for now at least — are hoping their most consistent hitter can handle a broken right middle finger.

Leading the reinforcements is infielder Luis Guillorme (hamstring strain), who is in the middle of a rehab mission and should be on the verge of activation. Trevor May (COVID-IL) is expected to return this weekend. The Mets have several rehab relievers who could become September options, including Tylor Megill, Drew Smith and Joey Lucchesi.

— The Braves are healthier. All-Star second baseman Ozzie Albies, who broke his foot in June, began a rehabilitation mission last week and is nearing a comeback, which could push breakout rookie Vaughn Grissom to the field. left. Right-handed starter Mike Soroka, an All-Star in 2019 before a series of injuries hit, is developing into Triple-A and could soon be an option.

The turning aid could be significant. Jake Odorizzi did not take his most recent turn in the rotation due to arm fatigue.

The biggest concern for Atlanta’s positional players is Ronald Acuña Jr., who is paying attention to his surgically repaired right knee. Acuña, normally a right fielder, has served as a DH in the Braves’ last seven games due to knee pain.


— The other Mets bats. Eduardo Escobar has a six-game hitting streak in which he is batting .526 with three homers. James McCann is showing more life than he has since signing with the Mets. Previously in difficulty, Tyler Naquin replaced Marte well.

Jacob deGrom (1.66 ERA) is back as a superhuman, and Chris Bassitt boasts a 1.75 ERA in his last seven starts.

– The Braves have scored 34 points in their last seven games, so a lot of their roster is hot. Outfielder Marcell Ozuna, hitting .438 this month, caught fire; Grissom, hitting .347, has played like a star since being called up in August; and outfielder Michael Harris II has a 14-game hitting streak.

Atlanta’s rotation has a worry in Odorizzi but a warrior in Spencer Strider, who has 25 strikeouts in his last two outings.


–The Mets’ most important bats, Pete Alonso (.646 OPS in September) and Francisco Lindor (.609), are having their worst months of the season. Daniel Vogelbach (3 for his last 30) and Darin Ruf (batter .163 as a Met) didn’t help DH enough.

Pete Alonso has struggled at home plate recently.
Pete Alonso has struggled at home plate recently.
New York Post: Michelle Farsi

The Mets’ rotation has the same second-half concern as last season: Taijuan Walker (6.25 ERA since the break) has dropped for the second straight year.

– Dansby Swanson was an All-Star for the first time this season, but the Braves shortstop’s play faltered in the second half. Outfielder Robbie Grossman, a deadline pickup for the Tigers, has yet to strike.

Fourth starter Kyle Wright has been great this season but topped his career high in innings, which is worth watching. He was brutalized by the A’s attack on Tuesday.

New York Post

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