Friday, April 22, 2016

Weekend Series Preview: Braves v Mets April 22-24, 2016

Dropping two out of three to the Dodgers didn't make anybody happy. But now the Braves catch a break against the Mets rotation, since they only have to face deGrom late and not Noah Syndergaard. On to the matchups!

Game 1 - Norris v. Harvey
Game 2 - Chacin v. Matz
Game 3 - TBD v. deGrom

Let's break this down game by game since this will probably be one of the more interesting pitching series the Braves see this month. Norris has been slightly above what we expected, mostly because after spring training I think the fans expected him to explode into a puddle of goo. He hasn't done that, but he hasn't been good either. With a 6.23 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP, he's got every fan gripping the table with both hands when he takes the mound. The concerning thing for me on Norris is he's giving up progressively more homers, which will eventually sink him if he doesn't get the ball down in the zone with his high WHIP. You can survive solo shots, you can't survive the homer after you walked two guys.

Matt Harvey WAS one of the Mets best pitchers last year. He had a 3.02 ERA in the postseason for all his starts, and a 2.71 ERA for the season in 2015. Now? He's a complete mess on the mound. Three starts, three Mets losses, and an ERA of 5.71 with a WHIP of 1.56. He's only struck out 9 batters all year. That's pretty low for a guy that had 188 punchouts last season. So what's wrong? Simply put, he's facing more runners and working out of the stretch more often. He isn't as comfortable out of the stretch and as a result the runners are coming home to roost. If the Braves can get him into the stretch early, their chances of winning go way up.

Jhoulys Chacin is the surprise story of the pitching staff this year. With 14 Ks in just 2 starts, his swing and miss rate is WAY up, and his first outing of the year he had a shutout going until the manager decided to yank him with 69 pitches for Jace Peterson to PH. I'll NEVER forget that move because it's exactly what drives me insane about Fredi. But I digress. If I had to rank the staff right now, I think Chacin is #2 behind Wisler in terms of strength. He'll face off against Steven Matz, a 24 year old lefty rook who has had two wildly different starts to this year. In his first game he gave up 7 runs to the Marlins in 2 innings and got yanked. In his second start, he went for 7 innings of shutout ball against Cleveland. Which guy shows up? I'm hoping it's an evens and odds thing, because if it's odds we'll show him what the back side of a toolshed looks like.

Is it a bad thing when we don't even know who's going against Jacob deGrom? Those of you might remember deGrom as that-guy-who-looks-like-a-pirate-and-also-strikes-out-everybody-on-the-Braves. Apparently he just had a son, so he's taken some time off for that, and the Braves will be his first game back. Either he'll be well-rested or rusty, and I'm hoping his hinges squeak a little. Freddie Freeman has hit a homer off deGrom once, so I'm hoping we can find any history that gets Freddie going. I think the last homer we had was in 2008 it feels so long ago. I can't even remember. All the bad hitting is starting to run together like a spillguard in a dive bar.

CPA Predictions:

The CPA predicted a sweep by the Dodgers, but they only took 2 of those games. Take THAT computer! The CPA is 8-5 on the year. So it's sort of right so far.

Game 1 - Mets by 1
Game 2 - Braves by 2
Game 3 - Mets by 2

The CPA doesn't really have a feel for the last game other than the fact deGrom is good. That's usually enough. We'll see if the Braves can't steal a game, but I personally agree with the CPA that the second game is the best shot. Let's get that one.

GO BRAVES!

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