The original weather forecast for Saturday in Atlanta was for heavy rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ian. Then that forecast changed. Now the Mets and Braves will try to play their pivotal three-game series’ second and third games, wagering against Mother Nature throwing them a curveball.
This is dangerous business, especially with the NL East title at stake. If we want to play the blame game, we can point the finger at the owners in Atlanta, who did not want to give up the revenue from three sellouts.
But the thing about weather forecasts is that they change by the hour, and an untold number of contingency plans were rejected in an effort to stick to the original schedule. If the skies stay clear, the Mets are set up nicely with Jacob deGrom slated to pitch Friday, ace Max Scherzer on Saturday and Chris Bassitt on Sunday. If they win two of three, they will take a two-game NL East lead into the season’s final three games.
The Mets need to win the NL East for manager Buck Showalter to set up his rotation to get the most out of deGrom and Scherzer. And that would make the Mets a better bet to win their first World Series since 1986, a probability with current odds of +500 (same as the Yankees, who got home run No. 61 from Aaron Judge last night).
— Chris Sheridan (@sheridanhoops) September 29, 2022
Predicting the Storm
She is named Ian, and she is going to go where she wants to go. And if that means she steers northwest instead of sticking closer to the Georgia coast, then Saturday will be a washout.
And if she lingers, Sunday is a washout, too. If that happens, the Mets and Braves could be forced to play a makeup game or two next Thursday in Atlanta, the day before the baseball playoffs begin.
This would be an onerous travel burden for the Mets, who will be playing at home next Wednesday afternoon before opening the postseason at Citi Field, whether division champs or a wild-card team. A one-day jaunt to Atlanta benefits the Braves, who can fly back home immediately after their regular-season finale in Miami.
You get the feeling the baseball gods are on the Mets’ side after they recovered from a late 4-0 deficit Wednesday night and came back for a 5-4, 10-inning walk-off victory over Miami. That was behind five RBIs from Eduaro Escobar at nearly the same time the Braves dropped a 10th-inning loss at Washington.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 29, 2022
This has left New York with a one-game lead in the NL East, with six games remaining for the Braves (who finish against the Marlins) and the Mets (who finish with the Nationals).
But the baseball gods are fickle folks (as is Mother Nature), and any team that thinks it is all over after 156 games are mentally unprepared for what October and November will bring (yes, the World Series will last into November because of the preseason work stoppage).
As that relates to Showalter setting up the Mets’ pitchers, this is crucial. Scherzer is so valuable that Showalter removed him after six innings while he was throwing a perfect game last week. He has 169 strikeouts in 139 2/3 innings pitched, the primary reason why the Mets lead the National League with 1,504 Ks (Atlanta is 2nd with (1,503). He has a 2.13 ERA, which would be third in the NL if injuries did not prevent him from qualifying. His fastball starts to sting in cold weather when batters are fortunate enough to make contact.
deGrom has 91 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings with an ERA of 2.93 but has pitched only 10 times because of injuries. The Mets have been extraordinarily cautious in their injury management strategy to set themselves up for a strong postseason. That’s if they win the NL East and get a bye through the first round of the expanded playoffs. Six teams will make the postseason instead of the old four, and the teams with the two best records — the Dodgers and the Mets or Braves — will get a week of sofa time. And with the Mets needing to rest their pitchers as much as possible, this is critical to their chances.
But the Braves, lest we forget, just finished a visit to the White House because they are the defending champs. They will not be pushovers.
The odds of a Mets sweep are slimmer than Pete Alonso's chances of winning MVP.
The Braves are 21-6 (.777) at home in the second half.
They are 38-12 (.760) at home since June 1.
They have not lost consecutive games in the same home stand since April 23-24.#ForTheA
— Knockahoma Nation (@KnockahomaNTN) September 29, 2022
Key Game Series
This is a critical three-game series for both teams, and the Mets have been installed as a -120 favorite on the money line for Friday, with the winning margin line set at New York -1 1/2. The Braves will be starting Max Friend, who has allowed only five earned runs over four starts in September. Kyle Wright, the only 20-game winner thus far in the majors, will be their Game 2 starter against Scherzer, and Game 3 could go to Ian Anderson or Charlie Morton or Bryce Elder against Bassitt. Elder is coming off a six-hit shutout Monday against the Nats.
The season series is 5-4 in favor of the Mets this weekend, so if Atlanta takes two of three, it will be 6-6. The first tiebreaker in the case of a divisional tie is a record within the division, which the Mets would lead by two games even if they are defeated twice this weekend. Additional tiebreakers start to require an advanced mathematics degree.
If the Mets are swept? We could see this again when it is all said and done.
While in D.C., the 2021 Champs took a trip to The White House. pic.twitter.com/srmXxMJtRB
— MLB (@MLB) September 26, 2022
Eyes Still on Judge
The Mets can pretty much take care of business with a sweep, and thereby lower those World Series champion odds even lower (they are +500 along with the Yankees, while the 107-win Dodgers are +350, and the Yankee-nemesis Houston Astros are second at +425, while the Braves are +800.)
For those who believe franchise title No. 3 is in the cards, joining 1969 and 1986 may be the best time to bet them.
With Judge now just one home run away from passing Roger Maris (he has a chance to get it at home in the Bronx this weekend against Baltimore), the best baseball-watching this weekend will be coming to New Yorkers on television from Atlanta, weather permitting.
And again, the weather forecast changes by the hour.
If Tropical Storm Ian takes a turn, nobody is currently foreseeing, things will get very messy and complicated. After what we saw Wednesday along Florida’s Gulf Coast, the best bet for everyone is that Ian heads out to sea. We can all agree on that wager wish, eh?
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