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Series Preview: Braves vs. Mets

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Hey Braves! Would it kill you to have a winning streak?

Scott Cunningham

10 games.

That's all that remain for the Braves to make any noise in the Wild Card race. The division is officially out of reach, but if (and that's a big "if") the bats wake up with as good a rotation the Braves have, they can sneak in the back door with the second Wild Card spot. Unfortunately, a 4-11 September has the Braves six games behind Pittsburgh with a team to leapfrog (Milwaukee) to get to them. First, they have to face the Mets one last time.

The Mets are all but assured of their sixth straight losing season at 73-80 entering Friday. Their stalwart at third base, David Wright, was shut down for the rest of September on the ninth due to shoulder inflammation; he wasn't contributing much anyway with a .269 avg. and eight home runs, a far cry from his usual production.

Lucas Duda remains the team's biggest power threat with 27 homers, 83 RBI, .474 slugging and 135 wRC+. Over the past week, however, no one's been hotter than Wilmer Flores: nine hits, three of them homers and 10 RBI as part of a five-game hitting streak. He's been the Mets' brightest spot on offense during which the Mets have lost five of seven; Duda and Juan Lagares have also hit over .300 in that stretch. One also has to be careful of Curtis Granderson. The Braves have held him to 9-61 (.148), but four of those nine are home runs.

Atlanta's best chance to win may come in the opener on Friday, as the Mets have lost three of Zack Wheeler's four starts against the Braves. Considering the state of the Braves offense, they could be in for a long weekend with Niese and deGrom to follow: Niese has allowed four runs in two starts against the Braves while deGrom, since allowing three runs in the first inning of his first start against Atlanta, has tossed 11 scoreless innings since then. September has been good for deGrom, who has a 1.29 ERA in 21 innings.

This is crunch time for the Braves. They NEED to win. Otherwise, they'll be on the business end of Jenrry Mejia's fishing pole.

PROBABLE STARTERS

Friday, September 19, 7:35 p.m. ET
Julio Teheran (ATL)
Last 3 starts: 20 IP, 16 hits, 6 ER, 5 BB, 14 K
2014 vs. Mets: 16.2 IP, 18 hits, 7 ER, 7 BB, 11 K

Zack Wheeler (NYM)
Last 3 starts: 14.2 IP, 17 hits, 9 ER, 6 BB, 18 K
2014 vs. Braves: 24.1 IP, 22 hits, 10 ER, 11 BB, 23 K

Saturday, September 20, 7:10 p.m. ET
Mike Minor (ATL)
Last 3 starts: 18 IP, 22 hits, 10 ER, 7 BB, 9 K
2014 vs. Mets: 18.1 IP, 15 hits, 7 ER, 3 BB, 14 K

Jon Niese (NYM)
Last 3 starts: 19.2 IP, 24 hits, 9 ER, 1 BB, 18 K
2014 vs. Braves: 13.1 IP, 13 hits, 4 ER, 4 BB, 12 K

Sunday, September 21, 1:35 p.m. ET
Ervin Santana (ATL)
Last 3 starts: 17 IP, 18 hits, 11 ER, 7 BB, 15 K
2014 vs. Mets: 22 IP, 15 hits, 5 ER, 4 BB, 17 K

Jacob deGrom (NYM)
Last 3 starts: 21 IP, 14 hits, 3 ER, 3 BB, 28 K
2014 vs. Braves: 12 IP, 13 hits, 3 ER, 2 BB, 19 K