By Declan Finn
If the New York Mets could play the entire season in the friendly confines of Citi Field, not only would they be the easy favorites to win the NL East, they would be a favorite to win the World Series as well. The Mets have been that good at home, holding a 26-11 record, including a two-game sweep of the red-hot Toronto Blue Jays, which had won 11 straight games before taking the field in Queens. But half the games on the schedule have to be played on the road, which just might be what destroys an otherwise successful season for the Mets.
The Mets found that out quickly after what should have been two season-defining wins over the Blue Jays. As the home-and-home series with the Jays shifted to Toronto, so did the Mets' momentum. The Blue Jays won both of those games, outscoring the Mets 15-1 in the process, including losing a game to former ace RA Dickey, who had to have a little extra motivation after being traded two and a half years ago.
But the good news for the Mets, despite their road woes, is the teams below them in the NL East haven't made a move to jump them in the standings. The Mets lead the Washington Nationals by 1.5 games and the Atlanta Braves by 3.5 games for the division lead. The Mets will have a big chance to put some more distance between them and the Braves starting Friday night with a three-game road set. Here is our insider's look at everything you need to know about the important series.
New York Mets (36-32, 1st Place NL East)
at Atlanta Braves (32-35, 3.5 GB in NL East)
Friday, 7:35 p.m.
Jacob deGrom (7-4, 2.33) vs. Matt Wisler (MLB debut)
Saturday, 7:10 p.m.
Noah Syndergaard (2-4, 3.76) vs. Williams Perez (3-0, 2.29)
Sunday, 5:05 p.m.
Matt Harvey (7-4, 3.32) vs. Julio Teheran (4-3, 5.07)
The Mets got two huge victories over the red-hot Blue Jays at Citi Field to start their home-and-home series with Toronto, but couldn't keep that momentum at the former Sky Dome. The Blue Jays won both of those games, with former Mets ace RA Dickey getting a bit of revenge, allowing just one run on three hits in seven innings of work, striking out seven to get the win on the mound. Dickey was traded to Toronto after a Cy Young season in New York. The Mets had won five of six before losing twice in Toronto. The Braves are coming off a split of a four-game, home-and-home series with the Boston Red Sox. Before that, the Braves dropped two of three to the Mets in Queens. Atlanta is 7-10 in the month of June and has lost five of their last eight games.
Three Braves To Watch
1. Wisler, the top prospect in the Braves organization, will make his major league debut Friday night. Wisler was considered the best prospect in the San Diego Padres organization before being traded to Atlanta before the season for closer Craig Kimbrel. He didn't light it up in Triple-A, going just 3-4 with a 4.29 ERA, but obviously he has the ability to be a big star in the league, at least the Braves are hoping he does. He gets his first chance to prove it Friday night.
2. Jace Peterson is the Braves hottest hitter, batting .310 with five runs scored, five doubles, a homer and five RBI over the past seven games. He's hit safely in nine of his last 10 games and has doubled in six of his last 10 games. He's batting .279 with 10 doubles, three triples, two home runs, 28 RBI and seven stolen bases this season. He's under Braves control until the 2021 season.
3. Juan Uribe, the former Dodger, has a seven-game hit streak, going 13-for-26 (.500) with four runs scored and two doubles over that stretch. He's raised his season average 42 points in those seven games. He has just one RBI, but Uribe is certainly getting on base at a tremendous rate. The 36-year-old is playing in his 14th season in the big leagues.
After an off day Monday, the Mets start a three-game series with the Brewers in Milwaukee.