Few teams have been hotter than the Mets over the past month, but the Braves have refused to go away in the NL East – even after they lost 4 of 5 at Citi Field. Atlanta has won six straight and is looking to draw closer in the division this week. The Braves’ only win in that ugly five-game series came against Taijuan Walker, and that’s exactly who Charlie Morton and Atlanta will face at home on Tuesday night.
Let’s take a look at starting lineups, betting odds, and predictions for Tuesday’s matchup.
New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves Betting Odds
The Braves are -142 favorites on the moneyline despite their struggles against the Mets earlier this month. Oddsmakers expect Atlanta to return serve at home, undoubtedly helped by the fact this offense had Taijuan Walker all figured out last time they met. The one blip in what’s otherwise been a stellar stretch for the Mets’ rotation, Walker was hammered for 8 runs in just 1+ inning of work. The over/under is set at 9 runs, which could be worth a look if you’re convinced Walker just doesn’t match up well with the Braves.
New York Mets Starting Lineup
CF B. Nimmo L
RF S. Marte R
SS F. Lindor S
1B P. Alonso R
DH D. Vogelbach L
2B J. McNeil L
LF M. Canha R
3B E. Escobar S
C J. McCann R
New York Mets vs. Charlie Morton
Charlie Morton has had a one-step-forward-two-steps-back type of season, showing flashes of the ultra-reliable pitcher he was as recently as last year but never quite putting it all together. The veteran has a 4.26 ERA over 22 starts (122.2 IP), with a 4.15 FIP, 1.21 WHIP, and 141 strikeouts.
While he’s still striking out more than 10 batters per nine, hits, home runs, and walks are all moderately up. Two of his last four starts have included six shutout innings, but in between, he was hit hard by the Phillies and Red Sox. Though his turn in the rotation didn’t come up when the Braves faced the Mets earlier this month, Morton has allowed 9 earned runs in 10.2 IP against New York this season.
The Mets’ offense has been on a tear in August, batting .285 with an .808 OPS and an average of 5.5 runs/game. What makes the Mets so potent is that they don’t rely on the home run to score. Pete Alonso hasn’t gone deep in any of his last 10 games but carries a .306 AVG over that span. That the Mets piled on the home runs against Morton last time makes this even more treacherous for the Braves.
This is also a deeper lineup than it was in July. Daniel Vogelbach and Tyler Naquin have both hit well since landing with the Mets, thanks to their matchup advantages, while Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil have begun to hit like all-stars again. Look for walks to be a hazard for Morton, who’s had some control issues this season. Brandon Nimmo, Mark Canha, and Alonso have all made walking an art form.
Atlanta Braves Starting Lineup
RF R. Acuna R
SS D. Swanson R
3B A. Riley R
1B M. Olson L
C W. Contreras R
LF R. Grossman S
DH M. Ozuna R
CF M. Harris L
2B V. Grissom R
Atlanta Braves vs. Taijuan Walker
Taijuan Walker has had a nice second season with the Mets, posting a 3.43 ERA over 20 starts (110.1 IP) with a 3.62 FIP and 1.20 WHIP. He’s striking out hitters at a career-low rate, but he’s allowed just 9 home runs in his 110+ innings. Along with improved control, Walker has earned his $10M salary.
Walker was rolling before that brutal start against the Braves earlier this month, when he recorded just 3 outs and allowed 8 runs (including 2 of the 9 home runs he’s given up this year). Walker didn’t look right and was later said to be dealing with hip soreness, but he made his next start and allowed 2 ER over 6 IP against Cincinnati. Walker did walk three Reds hitters, so you can’t automatically assume he’s solved any issues he’s dealing with.
The Braves have been winning largely due to their pitching over the past few days, but they still possess one of baseball’s best offenses. Three of their hottest hitters of late didn’t even open the season on the active roster. Ronald Acuna Jr., who was still recovering from a torn ACL in April, is batting .395 over his last 10 games, while rookie Michael Harris II and recent call-up Vaughn Grissom have flashed both contact and power-hitting abilities this month.
Putting a pitcher who limits home runs on the mound (ignoring the August 5 debacle) is huge against a lineup with Austin Riley, Matt Olson, and WIlliam Contreras all toward the middle of the order. While the Braves, like the Mets, can beat you without the home run, Walker can put the Mets in great position if he limits Atlanta to cheaper hits, rather than beating himself by giving up home runs and walks.
New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves Picks & Prediction
My pick: Mets Moneyline (+120 on FanDuel)
The Mets had the Braves’ number the last time they met. Sure, Taijuan Walker was almost solely responsible for New York’s only loss in that series, but he settled down against the Reds and should be healthier this time around.
Given Charlie Morton’s sustained struggles against a Mets offense that appears to be firing on all cylinders, +120 is too good of a value to ignore New York in this one. Over 9 runs isn’t a terrible play considering how talented these offenses are, but betting on runs being in the double-digits might be a stretch.