The most pivotal week of the season is here for the Atlanta Braves who will begin a five-game series against the New York Mets with a doubleheader at Citi Field Monday. That might seem like a dramatic statement given that there are still two months remaining in the 2021 regular season, but with the trade deadline scheduled for Friday, Atlanta’s performance over the next five games will likely determine their path for the rest of the way.
The Braves just split a four-game series in Philadelphia and are 48-50 entering play on Monday. They have alternated wins and losses going 4-5 since the All-Star break. They have yet to spend a day above .500 this season and haven’t been at .500 since July 10. Yet, they will begin play Monday just five games back in the NL East standings.
Their performance this week could impact how GM Alex Anthopoulos focuses on the trade deadline. Anthopoulos already acquired outfielder Joc Pederson from the Cubs and catcher Stephen Vogt from the Diamondbacks and said that the focus at that point was to add to the roster. If the Braves can close the gap this week, then upgrades to the bullpen and lineup will be required to remain in contention over the final two months. If the gap widens, then he may be inclined to shed some of the team’s expiring contracts and get a jumpstart on preparing for 2022.
With that as a backdrop, the Braves will head into Monday’s doubleheader with Kyle Muller scheduled to be on the mound for Game 1. Muller allowed two hits and one run over four innings in last Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Padres. He walked three and struck out three while running up his pitch count which factored into his early exit. Muller actually made his first career start in another doubleheader at Citi Field back on June 21 where he allowed one run while holding the Mets hitless over four innings.
The Mets will counter with right-hander Marcus Stroman who is coming off one of his best starts of the season where he held the Reds to just one hit and struck out seven over eight shutout innings. Stroman has faced the Braves just once this season and was forced to leave that start after just one inning due to a hip injury.
Bryse Wilson is expected to be added as the team’s 27th man for the doubleheader and is scheduled to start the second game for Atlanta. He will be looking for a much better result than his last outing. Wilson started the second game of last Wednesday’s doubleheader against San Diego and put the Braves in an early hole allowing four hits, four walks and five runs in just two innings. That game was eventually suspended due to rain.
The Mets still haven’t announced who will start the second game of Monday’s doubleheader.
Game 1 Time: 5:10 p.m. ET
Game 2 Time: TBD
Location: Citi Field, Flushing, New York
TV: Bally Sports South
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network