After enjoying a second off day in four days on Thursday, the Atlanta Braves will wrap up a week-long road trip with a three-game series against the New York Mets which will get underway on Friday. Atlanta split a two-game series with the Boston Red Sox to begin the trip winning Tuesday’s game 3-1 behind a stellar performance by Charlie Morton. They carried a 4-3 lead into the sixth Wednesday but were unable to hold it in a 9-5 loss that also featured a three-hour rain delay.
The Mets swept a doubleheader from the Colorado Rockies Thursday to improve to 24-20 on the season. The Braves are 2.5 games back in the division with a 24-25 record. Atlanta trails the Phillies, who are 25-26, by percentage points in the standings. The Braves haven’t spent a day this season above .500, yet they and the Marlins are the only teams in the division with a positive run differential.
Atlanta suffered a big blow in Tuesday’s win when Marcell Ozuna was injured after jamming his hand into Rafael Devers’ foot while attempting to slide into third. Ozuna was sent back to Atlanta where he was diagnosed with fractured middle and ring fingers on his left hand. Brian Snitker confirmed that Ozuna is expected to be out for six weeks due to the injury, but that surgery was not required. The Braves played a man short in Wednesday’s game in Boston but will make a roster move prior to Friday’s game.
With Ozuna out, they will need everyone in the lineup to pick it up. Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson have come around in recent days and Freddie Freeman’s numbers are on the rise as well. Freeman had three hits, including a pair of doubles, in the two games in Boston. After starting the month 0-for-22, Freeman is hitting a much more Freeman-like .323/.436/.600 with a 177 wRC+ in 78 PAs since.
The Mets are no strangers to what Freeman is capable of, as he has tormented them in his career, hitting .303/.386/.511 (139 wRC+) with 28 home runs and 49 doubles. He has been stout at Citi Field as well, where he has an .840 OPS / 124 wRC+ with nine homers and 32 doubles in 89 career games.
The Braves aren’t going to get any sympathy from the Mets for their recent run of injuries. New York is currently dealing with injuries to position players Pete Alonso, J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and Kevin Pillar. Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard have yet to throw a pitch, and Syndergaard may not all season after suffering a setback in his recovery from Tommy John Surgery. Taijuan Walker is currently on the Injured List but will be activated in time to start Friday’s series opener. Walker was injured in a start against the Braves just over a week ago where he experienced tightness in his side.
Friday, May 28, 7:10 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South, MLB Network)
Ian Anderson (9 GS, 51.0 IP, 25.2 K%, 10.0 BB%, 2.82 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 3.27 xFIP)
Ian Anderson will be looking to continue his early season success when he gets the start in Friday’s series opener. Anderson has pitched well of late, allowing just one run over his last two combined starts. He was dominant last time out, tossing six scoreless innings against the Pirates, allowing six hits while striking out six and not walking a batter for the first time all season.
Taijuan Walker (8 GS, 44.0 IP, 23.7 K%, 10.4 BB%, 2.05 ERA, 2.86 FIP, 4.14 xFIP)
Walker threw a bullpen and live batting practice earlier this week and reported no issues with his side. He held the Braves to just one hit across three scoreless innings on May 17 before exiting with the injury. He has been lights out in May, allowing 13 hits and five earned runs in 23 innings spanning four starts. His success has been driven by a very low homer rate; if the Braves can get some longballs they might be in good shape against him.
Saturday, May 29, 7:15 p.m. ET (FOX)
Max Fried (7 GS, 35.0 IP, 21.8 K%, 9.0 BB%, 4.63 ERA, 4.13 FIP, 4.28 xFIP)
Since returning from a stint on the Injured List with a strained hamstring, Max Fried has more closely resembled the 2020 version of himself. Fried has allowed one run in each of his four starts in May. He allowed four hits and one run over a season-high seven innings in his last start against the Pirates, though he had an uncommonly weak 2/3 K/BB ratio, the first time he’s had more walks than strikeouts since September 2019.
David Peterson (9 GS, 44.0 IP, 26.6 K%, 9.2 BB%, 4.91 ERA, 4.63 FIP, 3.41 xFIP)
It has been an up and down season for David Peterson in his sophomore year in the Major Leagues. Peterson posted a 5.59 ERA over four April starts, but had a great 3.03 xFIP while doing so. He has pitched somewhat better in May with a 4.38 ERA in 24 2/3 innings, though his xFIP crept up a bit to 3.70. Peterson allowed five hits and three runs over six innings in his last start against the Rockies. In a strange twist, Peterson has held right-handed hitters to a .205 average but has been torched by lefties who are hitting .341, and this reverse split is supported (at least for now) by his FIP and xFIP. Like many Braves hurlers, Peterson has been killed by the home run ball, and is second in MLB in HR/FB rate. The Braves will hope that doesn’t regress at least until this Saturday matchup.
Sunday, May 30, 7:08 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Charlie Morton (10 GS, 52.0 IP, 27.9 K%, 8.2 BB%, 3.98 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 3.24 xFIP)
Charlie Morton is coming off his best start of the season and is more closely resembling the pitcher the Braves were hoping they were getting when they signed him to a one-year deal this past offseason. Morton tied a season-high with nine strikeouts Tuesday and limited the Red Sox to three hits and an unearned run over seven innings. He has allowed just one earned run in his last two starts combined, totaling 17 strikeouts in just 13 innings.
Jacob deGrom (7 GS, 45.0 IP, 46.5 K%, 4.4 BB%, 0.80 ERA, 1.18 FIP, 1.58 xFIP)
Jacob deGrom picked back up where he left off on Tuesday, as he returned from the Injured List and was dominant once, striking out nine while allowing three hits and one run in five innings against the Rockies. deGrom exited after throwing just 63 pitches as the Mets opted to ease him back in after he felt tightness in his side during a start against the Diamondbacks on May 9. He has put up video game numbers this season with a microscopic 0.80 ERA and 1.18 FIP. His K-strikeout rate is an unbelievable 46.5 percent and batters are hitting just .132 against him for the season. The Braves have their work cut out for them if they want to win this game, because deGrom is pitching at an insane level these days.