The Mets have been arguably the hottest team in baseball since the All-Star break, but they have been served a slice of humble pie in Atlanta. New York was handed a 5-3 loss in Tuesday night’s series opener against the division-leading Braves, and they lost All-Star Jeff McNeil in the process. McNeil was placed on the injured list on Wednesday after suffering a mild hamstring strain during Tuesday’s defeat.
The Mets will look to end their mini two-game losing streak on Wednesday night when Steven Matz takes the mound. Atlanta will counter with a lefty of its own in Dallas Keuchel, who was absolutely smoked by the lowly Marlins in his last start. The Atlanta Braves are listed as -145 favorites on the moneyline, while the New York Mets check in at +125.
|2019 ATR Home||27-28||25-33|
|2019 ATR Away||33-31||33-30|
|2019 O/U Home||26-23-6||29-26-3|
|2019 O/U Away||33-25-6||32-28-3|
Keuchel was always going to be something of a wild card this season. He remained unsigned throughout the entire offseason, and the Braves didn’t scoop him up until after the draft came and went back in June. Atlanta didn’t have to forfeit any draft considerations to sign the former Cy Young winner, and most saw his addition as a major boost to a rotation in need.
However, Keuchel has been slow to find his footing in his new home. The left-hander is 3-5 through his first 10 starts of the season with an underwhelming 4.83 ERA. He has never been a big strikeout pitcher, instead relying on soft-hit ground balls to get most of his outs. The ground ball ability has been there (58.2% ground ball rate), but the soft contact has not. Keuchel has yielded a hefty 37.8% hard contact rate through his first series of starts in Atlanta.
The veteran was crushed to the tune of 8 runs on 10 hits, including 3 home runs, in his most recent outing in Miami. The Marlins are just about the most punchless lineup in the majors, so the fact that they managed to do a number on Keuchel is certainly something of a red flag.
However, a matchup with the Mets is fairly decent on paper. McNeil being out of the lineup is huge considering he’s been the Mets’ best or second-best hitter this season, while Robinson Cano is also on the IL with a long-term injury. Keuchel will have the platoon advantage against one of New York’s best bats (Michael Conforto). As long as he can navigate the massive power of Pete Alonso, this isn’t the worst spot for him.
If Steven Matz is your No. 5 starter, you probably have a pretty good rotation. Even so, the left-hander hasn’t been the most consistent pitcher in the world this season. The 28-year-old is 7-7 through 23 games, including 21 starts. He was briefly moved to the bullpen amid his struggles before returning to the rotation after a couple of appearances.
He threw a complete game shutout back on July 27th against the Pirates in what was the best outing of his career. However, in the very next start against the very same Pirates lineup, he surrendered 5 runs on 6 hits and lasted just 3.2 innings. That’s Matz in a nutshell. He’ll look like a potential ace in one start before getting lit up five days later.
A matchup with the Braves is about as bad a matchup as he can possibly have. The fact that he’ll be facing them on the road, away from pitcher-friendly Citi Field, doesn’t help. While he’ll have the lefty-lefty matchup against Freddie Freeman, that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Freeman has a wOBA of .359 against same-handed pitching so far this season. He’ll otherwise likely face six right-handed hitters, most of whom have tons of power.
Matz has conceded a .331 wOBA with 17 home runs this season to right-handed hitters. The Braves may have sent Austin Riley to the minors, but there’s still no shortage of righty thunder here with the likes of Ronald Acuna Jr., Josh Donaldson, Ozzie Albies, and Adam Duvall. The Braves’ projected lineup has a .349 wOBA with a .216 ISO against lefties, both of which are well above-average marks.
I like the Atlanta Braves tonight. The Mets’ lineup is a bit watered down now that McNeil is on the shelf, and I like Keuchel to bounce back after enduring one of the worst outings of his career last week in Miami. Meanwhile, I expect the Atlanta lineup to get to Matz, who has had issues with right-handed power over the course of his entire career.
The Braves on the moneyline at -145 isn’t awful value, but I like the riskier play that comes with betting on them to cover the runline at +130. Keuchel should be able to avoid getting lit up again tonight, while the offense should put some crooked numbers on the board.
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