New York Mets at Atlanta Braves – MLB May 17

7:10 p.m. ET – Mets at Braves (-150 ML) O/U: 8

The 18-16 Mets travel to Truist Park in Atlanta to kick off a three-game series against the 19-21 Braves on Monday night. New York entered a three-game set against the Rays on a seven-game winning streak, but hit a wall against the reigning American League champions, losing all three games by the combined total score of 22-8.

The Mets led each game by at least two runs at one point, before allowing Tampa Bay to put up crooked numbers in the latter innings. Atlanta picked up two of three in Milwaukee over the weekend, including a 10-9 loss on Sunday after scoring nine runs in the final three innings to come up just short.  

About the Mets

New York Mets LogoNew York holds a half-game lead over the Phillies for first place in the National League East a month and a half into the season, despite having a negative run differential of 10. The Mets have invested a lot of money in their lineup this season, including $341 million in shortstop Francisco Lindor. But Lindor has struggled mightily early in his Mets tenure, and currently is batting just .190 with three home runs and eight RBI. Lindor’s struggles have been a microcosm for the entire offense, which is averaging the third-fewest runs in all of baseball at 3.5 per game.

There also has been a major power shortage in the New York lineup. The Mets have hit the second-fewest home runs in Major League Baseball this year, with first baseman Pete Alonso the only player on the roster with more than three home runs.

An elite pitching staff has kept the Mets afloat to this point, allowing only 3.8 runs per game, the fourth-fewest in the big leagues. The Mets also have given up only 22 home runs to opposing teams, the fewest homers allowed in MLB. But if the Mets hope to stay atop the NL East, they are going to need their offense production to heat up to at least approach the level of excellence of their pitching staff.      

About the Braves

Atlanta Braves LogoThe Braves reside in third place in the National League East, two games behind New York, making this series crucial for both teams. Atlanta has averaged the eighth-most runs in baseball, scoring 4.7 runs per contest.

Right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. has come out of the gates strong and has emerged as the National League MVP favorite with a league-leading 12 home runs while batting .300 with 24 RBI. First baseman Freddie Freeman, the 2020 NL MVP, has begun heating up as well, batting .333 with three home runs and eight RBI over his past seven games.

The Braves have been held back by their pitching staff so far this year, as evidenced by the fact that they are one of six teams in all of baseball allowing over five runs per game. The Braves have allowed the fourth-most home runs this year, with 54 long balls flying off the bats of opposing ball clubs.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Mets +1½ (-170) +130 O 8 (-105)
Braves -1½ (+145) -150 U 8 (-115)

The Pitching Matchup

The Mets are turning to right-hander Taijuan Walker for the series opener. Walker is 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 41 innings pitched across seven starts this season. He picked up a win in his last start, allowing one earned run in seven innings against the Orioles.

Left-hander Max Fried is toeing the rubber for Atlanta. Fried made three starts in April before a muscle spasm in his spine sent him to the injured list. He has made two starts in the month of May, allowing two earned runs in 11 innings pitched since his return from the IL.

What’s the Bet?

New York has struggled away from Citi Field this year, posting a 7-12 record on the road. The Braves have not been as good at home this season as they were last year, with a 9-11 record in the confines of Truist Park thus far this year

So what’s the play? The Mets will be a popular public pick, with Walker having a lower ERA than Fried. But that stat is misleading. Fried has been fantastic since returning from the injured list and with the struggles New York has had in the batter’s box, he should be in for a good start in the series opener. Back Atlanta to get back into the win column and cut the Mets’ divisional lead to one game.  

The Pick
Atlanta Braves

*Odds courtesy of MyBookie

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Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.

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