June 13th, 2018
This date could be remembered for many years to come, as it was the first time Mike Soroka and Jacob deGrom dueled against each other. In his fourth career start, Soroka beat deGrom 2-0 thanks to a Freddie Freeman two-run home run. Even in a losing effort, deGrom proved why he was the clear choice for the Cy Young award in 2018. Soroka’s ability to beat deGrom at his best was just a glimpse of the dominance Soroka has shown throughout 2019.
Fast forward to tonight, and the fans in attendance will once again be treated to an amazing pitching duel. While deGrom is not quite as dominant in 2019 as he was last year, he was quite effective against the Braves on June 18th in a 10-2 Mets win. The day before, Soroka produced a quality start and earned the win against the Mets. Both Soroka and deGrom are likely in the discussion to represent the National League in the All-Star Game.
A date with deGrom is not the most ideal follow-up to yesterday’s disappointing 9-7 loss to the Cubs. The Braves offense came alive early, but the pitching and defense could not hold a five-run lead. However, one thing that makes this team special is their ability to successfully recover after a bad loss. With the way the Braves offense continues to produce, they have a good chance in any game, no matter the opponent.
Beyond Soroka pitching and the Braves offense playing at a high level, the fact that the Mets are in a downward spiral certainly plays into Atlanta’s favor. The Mets have lost eight of their past 12 games, including four in a row. Furthermore, in what seems to have become a yearly tradition, injuries and off the field distractions have taken center stage for the Amazins’. Three of the last four losses were against Philadelphia. Though the calendar may read June, New York’s struggles coupled with Atlanta’s recent run of success has potentially put the Mets on the brink of another lost season in 2019.
As mentioned above, while deGrom (3.25 ERA, 3.04 FIP, 3.18 xFIP) has not been able to repeat his historic 2018 season, he has found his high level of consistent dominance over the past two months. deGrom has allowed two or fewer runs in nine of his last 10 starts, including seven straight such performances. While he is 2-3 over that stretch, the Mets bullpen is certainly more to blame than Degrom.
Jacob deGrom certainly has also been quite effective against the Braves in his career. He has thrown more innings against Atlanta than any team in his career, producing a 1.88 ERA over 124.1 innings. While he is just 7-6 against the Braves, deGrom has 13 career starts against the Braves in which he has gone six innings and allowed two runs or less. That is the most times a pitcher has achieved that stat line against the Braves since deGrom entered the league in 2014. Max Scherzer is second over that span with nine such games.
Soroka (2.07 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 3.67 xFIP) will take ball hoping to get off to the same start he had against the Nationals last Sunday. Unfortunately, Soroka was hit by a pitch from Austin Voth that limited him to just two innings. His removal from the game was more of a precaution, and reports have been nothing but positive that he is 100%. The start was encouraging because Soroka seemed to be back on track after regressing a bit in his other June starts.
Overall, Soroka has produced a 3.90 ERA in June, compared to a 1.62 ERA in March/April and a 0.79 ERA in May. A few reasons for his regression centers on the fact that hitters are making harder and more frequent contact. Soroka has a 5.5 k/9 rating in June, compared to a 11.3 rating in March/April and a 6.6 rating in May. Furthermore, Soroka has surrendered a hard hit rate of 42.1% in June, compared to 28.6% in March/April and 30.9% in May. It seems the league has started to adjust to Soroka’s arsenal of pitches. While no one doubts Soroka will eventually make his own adjustments, tonight would be an ideal starting point. The dominance he has shown against the Mets in three career starts is an encouraging sign.
As mentioned above, tonight has the potential to be one of the best pitching matchups of the year. While there certainly is a good chance there could be plenty of noise off the the field this weekend, the Braves’ bats need to make sure the noise from their bats is even louder. A win versus deGrom would a big lift after yesterday’s loss, and a significant step toward securing another series win against an NL East Opponent.
WPA - Josh Donaldson - JD has a chance to end June with a SLG% above .550, the first time he has done that in a month since 2017. While he certainly has been productive all season, he finally seems to be getting back to the MVP level talent he has displayed before. Furthermore, in seven career plate appearances, Donaldson has two home runs against deGrom. Atlanta likely will need a long ball or two tonight to have a good chance to win, and Donaldson seems to be as good of a bet as anyone to deliver.
Atlanta Braves @ New York Mets
Friday, June 28th, 2019
7:10 PM EST
Citi Field, New York, New York
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, MLB.tv
Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, Rock 100.5, Braves Radio Network
XM Radio: XM Streaming 841