MLB: Atlanta Braves at Milwaukee Brewers

Braves Series Preview May 1-4

Ah, Thor. You told us you couldn’t raise your arm over your shoulder for bicep soreness, yet you refused an MRI. After pushing your start back three days, you claimed you had no discomfort and were ready to pitch on Sunday. Then you gave up five runs, lasted merely 38 pitches over an inning and a third, and left the game with a trainer, grabbing at your lat. And, I mean, we think it’s your lat.

There are only so many times BP Mets can make use of This Is Fine Dog in one season before we have to start paying royalties to K.C. Green.

Lucas Duda’s impending return has been downgraded to pending after he felt a twinge in his hyperextended left elbow. There remains no timetable for Yoenis Cespedes to rejoin the team; the Mets have released no information about their best hitter, a silence that sounds worse than the doublespeak they typically peddle.

Four games under .500 sounds a lot better than Your Last Place New York Mets, so let’s keep some perspective. We’re barely out of April. Michael Conforto has been freed. Jay Bruce (.332 TAv through Saturday) is hitting better than Daniel Murphy (.321). And after taking two of three from the Nationals — albeit looking awful in the finale — the Mets travel to Atlanta to take on a team that ostensibly isn’t trying.


Game 1:  Monday @ 7:35 p.m. (TV: SNY; RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)

Game 2:  Tuesday @ 7:35 p.m. (TV: SNY; RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)

Game 3:  Wednesday @ 7:35 p.m. (TV: SNY; RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)

Game 4:  Thursday @ 7:35 p.m. (TV: SNY; RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)


Monday: RHP Robert Gsellman (0-2, 6.23 ERA, 6.08 DRA, .350 TAv, -0.2 WARP) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (2-1, 3.38 ERA, 4.95 DRA, .261 TAv, 0.1 WARP)

Tuesday: RHP Matt Harvey (2-1, 4.25 ERA, 4.89 DRA, .270 TAv, 0.1 WARP) vs. RHP R.A. Dickey (2-2, 3.80 ERA, .296 TAv, -0.8 WARP)

Wednesday: RHP Jacob deGrom (1-1, 2.84 ERA, 1.92 DRA, .238 TAv, 1.2 WARP) vs. Bartolo Colon (1-2, 5.59 ERA, .280 TAv, -0.4 WARP)

From 2014 to 2016, only three starting pitchers in baseball walked fewer per nine innings than former Met Bartolo Colon:

Name Team GS W L IP BB/9
Phil Hughes Twins 68 28 26 419.1 0.97
Josh Tomlin Indians 55 24 19 332 1.03
Clayton Kershaw Dodgers 81 49 14 580 1.3
Bartolo Colon Mets 95 44 34 585.1 1.32

To paraphrase A.J. Libeling, nobody who pitched as many innings as Colon had better control, and nobody better threw more innings. Yes, we’re docking Clayton Kershaw for 5.1 innings. That slacker. Anyway, Bartolo’s also hit more home runs than Kershaw during this time.

In 2017, Colon has walked 2.2 per nine innings, which is superlative if you’re Ubaldo Jimenez (whose 4.4 BB/9 is worst in baseball over the same span). It’s also on par with Jacob deGrom’s 2.25 BB/9 in his Mets career. That’s still good control. But Colon hasn’t missed the plate this much since his mediocre 2011 season with the Yankees. His 4.38 FIP is worse than any single-season mark since he started just 12 games in 2009 before elbow surgery knocked him out for the entire 2010 campaign.

Colon’s Braves contract runs for a single year at $12.5 million. Atlanta signed him to eat innings during a tanking rebuilding year — surely with the hope that Bartolo would replicate his 2016 All-Star season and could be flipped at the deadline for prospects. It’s still early, so Colon’s control kinks might be ironed out soon enough. On the other hand, without the ability to pinpoint pitches, baseball Lazarus could be on the verge of retirement.

Thursday: RHP Zack Wheeler (1-2, 4.78 ERA, 4.85 DRA, .258 TAv, 0.1 WARP) vs. LHP Jaime Garcia (1-1, 3.99 ERA, 5.17 FIP, .275 TAv, -0.3 WARP)


After squeaking past the Brewers 7-5 on Thursday and 10-8 on Friday, the Braves obliterated the Brewers on Saturday by a score of 11-3 and banged out 20 hits. That kind of series will make the whole offense look good. In particular, over the last five games entering Sunday, Matt Kemp had hit .348/.375/.913, Nick Markakis went .450/.500/.550, and Freddie Freeman merely slashed .333/.417/.571.

Mike Foltynewicz struck out 15 of the 46 batters he faced over his last two starts, but the Mets miss him this turn through the rotation.

Meanwhile, the desiccated Jose Reyes hit .444/.524/.833 with two dingers and two steals over his last five games entering Sunday, temporarily halting calls to promote Amed Rosario. Michael Conforto, finally playing every day, gave the Mets a .368/.429/.842 performance in his 21 plate appearances before yesterday’s game.

Hansel Robles continues his flaky 2017 season. He allowed no runs over the last two weeks entering Sunday, striking out 11 in 7.2 innings. That followed a six-game stretch in early April when he gave up a .947 OPS and posted a 5.40 ERA over six appearances.


Presumptive Rookie of the Year Dansby Swanson was at .149/.196/.230 entering Sunday. Perhaps his last-five-games line of .211/.318/.368 should have landed him in the “Who’s Hot?” section.

As discussed, Bartolo.

Through Sunday, Curtis Granderson had one hit (a double) and no walks in his previous 26 plate appearances. That’s .043/.043/.087, which is bad. Asdrubal Cabrera, playing on hobbled legs as he is wont to do, was at .105/.190/.105 going into Sunday.

Matt Harvey (six runs in 4.1 innings) and Robert Gsellman (6 runs in 4 innings) were awful the last time out.


The Mets opened the season with a three-game set against the Braves, allowing just five runs on their way to a 2-1 series victory. Those were good times. Last week, again at Citi Field, the Braves outscored the home team 15-7 over two games. Mercifully, the third game was rained out. The Mets have never met whatever the boondoggle suburban ballpark in not-Atlanta is called.


The Braves have achieved their mediocre record notwithstanding (some may say because of) a healthy roster. Brandon Phillips is the only Brave of consequence suffering a malady. His day-to-day groin strain must be a minor one since Phillips has avoided the ubiquitous 10-day disabled list.

As for the Mets, it might be quicker to write about who isn’t injured. Syndergaard left yesterday’s start with an injured side. No news when he’ll pitch again. Cespedes remains out indefinitely with the hamstring pull. Duda’s balky elbow will keep him out longer than the 10-day minimum. Wilmer Flores, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo. They’re still disabled, though all are purportedly on the road to recovery. Do we really believe the Mets’ press-released timetables for players’ return?


“No, that’s not standard practice,” Sandy Alderson said about Syndergaard’s refusal to undergo imaging. “But I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube either.”

Regarding the hospital ward that is the Mets’ clubhouse, Alderson said, “It would be easy to dismiss this as ‘this is just how baseball goes.’ But you do have to sort through the injuries and think about the kinds of things you’re doing preventively to make sure they’re minimized.”

“But we have to figure out something.” — Alderson, about keeping Cespedes upright, but really about life.

Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch – USA Today Sports

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