Mets vs. Braves MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Expect Motivated Atlanta in Home Opener (Monday, August 15)
David J. Griffin/Getty Images. Pictured: Atlanta Braves pitcher Spencer Strider
Mets vs. Braves Odds
|Over/Under||8 (-118 / -104)|
|Time||7:20 p.m. ET|
The National League East division can either get very interesting or be basically locked up this week as the Mets and Braves begin a four-game series in Atlanta. New York holds a 5.5-game lead over the Braves entering the week, and a series win could all but seal the division.
The world keeps waiting for the typical Mets late-season collapse, but it just has not come. They are 11-3 so far in August, including taking four out of five games against the Braves in an earlier series and now coming off a series win versus the Phillies.
Atlanta isn’t going down without a fight, though. After a tough series in Queens, the Braves have gone on to win all six games since and will surely be out for revenge back at Truist Park.
New York Mets
Sure, wins and loses are a poor representation of a starting pitcher’s season. But a 13-4 record for Carlos Carrasco is impressive nonetheless and an indication of the success the team has had with him on the mound. He has the fourth most wins in baseball.
His team is winning, but some of the stats for Carrasco are a little less impressive when you look closer. His 3.76 ERA is OK, but he has a 4.05 xERA. He allows a below-average hard-hit rate, and opponents have a.317 wOBA against him.
After a horrible June, Carrasco settled back down and has been brilliant since the start of July. In his past seven starts, he is 5-0 with a 1.69 ERA and has allowed just eight runs in 42 2/3 innings. However, his worst outing over that stretch was against the Braves when he allowed three runs in six innings but picked up the win.
Over the past two weeks, only the Dodgers have had a better wOBA or wRC+ than the Mets do. Jeff McNeil is red hot, batting .412 with a 1.113 OPS over the past weeks. Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, and the growing legend of Daniel Vogelbach have been mashing the ball too.
Despite the Braves still having their top three pitchers from last season’s World Series team back this year, it is surprisingly a rookie who was left off the postseason roster who has emerged as the ace of this staff.
Spencer Strider made two appearances last season before making the Opening Day roster out of training camp. After starting the season in the bullpen, the 23-year-old was moved to the rotation on May 30. In 13 starts he is 5-3 with a 3.44 ERA and 2.30 xFIP.
Strider’s fastball averages more than 98 mph, and he mixes it with a lights-out slider that has generated a 50% strikeout rate. Since Strider moved into the rotation on May 30, no pitcher has a higher strikeout rate than he does at 37.7%.
The defending World Series champions brought back almost all their firepower, have a healthy Ronald Acuna, and even added superstar Matt Olson. They rank fourth in wOBA and eight in wRC+ this season. MVP candidate Austin Riley has been the leader of the pack, ranking fourth in the league in wOBA.
It is always a dangerous game to start factoring in motivation to your handicap. But this is about as close to a must-win game for the Braves as you’ll find in August.
Atlanta sits 5.5 games back of the division lead with a month and a half left of the season. While you don’t want to look too far ahead in the series, they know they’ll face Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom on Wednesday and Thursday.
After the way they were dominated two weeks ago, the Braves will be out for revenge back home on Monday, with one of their best pitchers on the mound.
Strider should be extra motivated, as well, after he was chased in the third inning against the Mets last week. He gave up four runs and wasn’t happy about it after the game. “They seem to be having a lot of luck right now offensively,” he said.
I don’t want to take away anything from the Mets success right now, but Strider might have a point. Despite ranking second in the league in wOBA and wRC+ over the past two weeks, New York ranks just 21st in average exit velocity and is 28th in HardHit%.
They took advantage of a lot of weak contact finding holes in the defense last week, and we saw that again against the Phillies on Sunday night. While it has been working, it’s not really a recipe for long-term success.
Atlanta needs this game and will have its emerging ace on the mound. Carrasco has not been as good as his win-loss record indicates, and the Braves know they need to get on him early.
I’ll take the motivated Braves returning home in the first game of a crucial NL East battle at -146, playable to -150.
Pick: Atlanta Braves ML -146