The first series are in the books, and four teams remain unbeaten. The Tigers and Royals aren’t big stunners. The Rockies, Reds and Braves are a little more surprising. Obviously it is EARLY, but as the old adage goes, you can’t win them all if you don’t win the first ones…
The second set of series commence tonight with a brand new set of matchups and some really good early rivalry matchups with the Reds and Cardinals, Detroit and Cleveland and of course, the Sawks and the Yanks.
Let’s see if we can build on a nice opening week to the season with a Friday night winner.
New York Mets -115 at Atlanta Braves +105 (Total: 7)
Jonathon Niese vs. Eric Stultz
It’s been a good start to the season for two National League East hopefuls. Most predicted the Braves to slide back considerably this year as their pitching staff appeared middle of the road and their lineup figured to struggle to score runs. That certainly wasn’t the case in their opening series down in Miami where they scored plenty of runs in sweeping the favored Marlins. Likewise, the Mets were optimistic heading into the season and have to feel even better after taking an opening series against the similarly favored Nationals, highlighted by yesterday’s rubber game win with Matt Harvey on the mound against Stephen Strasburg.
So both teams enter tonight feeling good about themselves.
The Mets have won seven of their last ten games against Atlanta, and are throwing the underrated Johnathon Niese tonight. The Mets are 4-1 in his last five starts in Atlanta, and you can bet he will be glad to face a Braves lineup that is a little softer than in years past with the departure of Jason Heyward.
Eric Stultz, the 35-year old veteran righty doesn’t have much experience against any of the Mets likely starters. He has had relative success but hasn’t faced any current Mets more than eight times. I’ll give the starting pitching edge tonight to the Mets.
I’ll also give the “regression to the mean” edge to the Mets as well. It is unlikely the Braves will continue to hit the way they did the opening series. Last year this lineup was second worst in the NL in runs scored and batting just .241 as a team. This year’s lineup doesn’t feature any obvious upgrades and, as mentioned earlier, has the departure of Jason Heyward to make up for as well.
The Mets are an interesting sleeper team this season. If Harvey stays healthy, Niese becomes a pretty formidable fourth starter, giving their pitching rotation nice depth. I’ll take the Mets on the road tonight to hand the Bravos their first loss of the young season.