The Atlanta Braves scored a big win on Tuesday night and have the chance to climb back to .500 with a win on Wednesday over the New York Mets. The Mets are favored, so it would take an upset from the Braves to do that. New York will send Tylor Megill to the mound for his seventh MLB start and Atlanta will send Max Fried out for his 67th.
The Braves are still trying to be buyers at the Trade Deadline. Maybe Joey Gallo could end up being an interesting fit there with right field open thanks to the Ronald Acuna Jr. season-ending injury. Whatever the case, the Braves seem to be trying to find ways to improve, which is a clear sign to me that they, too, believe that the Mets are vulnerable.
Tylor Megill has been a godsend for the Mets, whose pitching injuries look like the lineup injuries from a few weeks ago. The Mets are missing several MLB-caliber starters and relievers right now, but Megill has filled in very nicely with a 2.10 ERA and a 3.35 FIP in his 30 innings of work. Given that he started the season at Double-A and wasn’t a super highly-regarded prospect, what he has done has been thoroughly impressive.
Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs actually ranked him as the 25th prospect in the Mets org during the first week of the season. The 6-foot-7 right-hander did add some velo and with increased perceived velocity with his extension to home plate, I could see how he would be tough to hit.
As always, though, there is a method to my madness. For starters, Megill has a 90.6% LOB% through six starts. That will come down. He’s running a .267 BABIP with a league average Hard Hit% of 38.5%.
The Braves are getting their third look at Megill. I don’t believe in team vs. pitcher splits or any of that stuff. The sample sizes aren’t big enough. However, I think having seen a pitcher is a big help. It didn’t really help the Pirates in their second straight game against Megill, but nothing can help the Pirates. I just feel like seeing pitch shape, understanding a pitcher/catcher plan of attack, and having seen the arm slot and the arm angle are all helpful. That is especially true with a guy that stands 6-foot-7.
To me, it seems like the Braves at least have a decent chance of bringing some of that regression to the forefront for Megill. They went from an exit velo of 90.8 in the first start to 93.2 in the second. They put 11 balls in play of 95+ mph out of 24 in the two starts. I think their offensive projection here is a bit higher than what this line would suggest.
Obviously the Mets have gotten lots of looks at Max Fried over his 366 career innings, but Fried is a guy that I want to bet on right now. The southpaw has a 4.46 ERA, but a 3.92 FIP in his 84.2 innings of work. He’s struck out over a batter per inning. He’s been unlucky on the batted ball front with a .323 BABIP, even though his 34.3% Hard Hit% is way better than the league average.
It has been a tough season for Fried with a couple different IL stints, but I have to think that he gets into a better rhythm as he’s able to go out there on his regular turns in the rotation. A random control blip hurt him last time out against the Phillies, but he was terrific against the Rays in his start prior to that.
Realistically speaking, the Mets offense has not been great. Injuries have played a big role, but also, Citi Field has been extremely tough for hitters. I’ve got a positive regression candidate in Fried and a negative regression candidate in Megill. I think this game is closer to a coin flip than the line suggests.
I talked about it yesterday, but the Mets pen has worked a lot lately. Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, and Trevor May would all be working a fourth time in six days. Anthony Banda and Yennsy Diaz are unavailable. Jeurys Familia would be pitching a 3-in-4. The Mets are actually lucky that they got hammered last night. If you’re going to lose, lose big, so you don’t burn any big pen arms.
I still think this group has been worked a lot lately. The Braves bullpen, while probably not as good as the Mets bullpen, is in a better spot here, even coming off of Monday’s doubleheader.
In breaking this one down, I just feel like there’s some value on the Atlanta side here.