Kyle Wright’s tenth career start was decent: four runs (three earned) in six innings of work, with two walks and four strikeouts. Most importantly, he outlasted and outdueled Max Scherzer, surviving a nasty, defense-caused jam in the fifth and giving his team enough to club the Nationals’ ace and turn a two-run deficit into a two-run lead by the time he departed. Wright’s overall numbers still look ugly (157 ERA-, 159 FIP-, 130 xFIP- in 2020; 166/159/130 overall), but there was clearly something to build on last Sunday, and that’s what he’ll try to do against the Mets in this afternoon’s series finale.
This will be the second time Wright faces the Mets this year, and his first outing against them was a weird one, as he allowed nine baserunners while getting just ten outs, but kept New York off the board (in part thanks to Tyler Matzek getting him out of a jam in the fourth) in a 4-0 win. Perhaps he’ll combine the two today, ending the Braves’ road trip, and overall 2020 road slate, on a very positive note.
Opposing Wright will be Rick Porcello, who is probably very annoyed by his 2020 season. Porcello has made ten starts, but has -0.3 RA9-WAR, a bottom-ten mark in the majors for pitchers with 40+ innings. However, he’s actually pitched somewhere between “fine” and “well,” with his 70 (yes, 70) FIP- representing a by-far-career-best and his 98 xFIP- being a generic mark in line with his career. Of those hurlers with 40 or more innings in 2020, Porcello has easily the biggest ERA-FIP gap, and no one but Yusei Kikuchi of the Mariners is even particularly close (they’re the only two pitchers with gaps above 2.00). So, in short, hope the Braves crush Porcello the way they did in his Mets debut (seven runs in two innings, one strikeout to three walks, easily his worst start of the year and really his only bad start of the year by FIP and one of two bad starts by xFIP) or the way they did in his start immediately after (four runs in four innings)... but don’t be surprised if they don’t.
(On the flip side, Porcello’s had a weird season with an okay .336 wOBA-against but a bad .373 xwOBA-against. The latter isn’t really as predictive as other things, but it shows that it’s not all bad luck for him — he’s been hit hard, just not in the homers-and-fly-balls way, a lot of shouldn’t-be-doubles, basically, as his BA and xBA are pretty similar.)
The Braves enter play 2.5 games ahead of the Marlins in the division, with eight games (including four against the Fish) left to play. They’ve already won the season series with the Mets; even if they drop this game, they’ll finish 6-4 against them. Still, they’d probably prefer to enter their next series at least 2.5 up than 1.0 up (the Marlins play a doubleheader today), so winning today would be helpful in that regard.
Atlanta Braves @ New York Mets
Sunday, September 20, 2020
1:10 pm EDT
Citi Field, Flushing, Queens, New York City, NY
TV: Fox Sports South
Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network
XM Radio: XM Streaming 841