The NL East has been one of baseball’s most highly contested divisions since day one. As the season hits its homestretch, the NL East is once again center stage as the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets continue their rare five-game series this week. Here we preview today’s Game 4 clash, with betting picks and predictions (7:10 PM ET, Wednesday).
It’s not often teams play five game series. That said, it also isn’t often to see a team have to make up as many games via doubleheaders as the New York Mets have had to this year. Due to rain outs and Covid cancellations, no team has played more doubleheaders than New York and as a result, it’s meant a tough stretch of games for the NL East’s top team including a recent seven game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on the road (of which New York lost 3-4).
Entering the start of this pivotal five game set, the Mets and Braves were separated by just a handful of games as the Braves sat in third behind the Philadelphia Phillies in second. The Braves were coming off a split with the Phillies and the Mets, a series win over the Toronto Blue Jays. With the Phillies taking on the Washington Nationals for their own four game set, both the Braves and Mets knew how important their series would be to their position in the standings.
Day one, game one, was the first half of a split doubleheader. Playing just seven innings, the Braves took advantage of a fantastic outing from starting pitcher, Kyle Muller, and a pair of RBIs from Joc Pederson and Orlando Arcia to take game one, 2-0. In game two, the Mets returned the favor as their bullpen game resulted in just four hits and no runs. An RBI off the bat of Mets’ Jeff McNeil was all New York needed to split the doubleheader and keep the series tied up.
Game three however, told much of a different story for the Mets. Opting to bring Jerad Eickhoff back for another shot at the starting rotation proved to be costly. Eickhoff’s recent issues continued as he put forth his third dud in his last four outings. Eickhoff never looked comfortable on the mound, allowing the first three batters to reach safety before giving up a two-run double to Dansby Swanson.
Eickhoff’s woes continued as he surrendered another two runs each in the second and third before the Braves broke it open in the fourth. After allowing Atlanta’s pitcher, Charlie Morton, to reach on a single to start the inning, Eickhoff loaded the bases setting the stage for Austin Riley to crush a grand slam, his first of two home runs on the night. Eickhoff left the game after that, his final line reading 3.1 innings, five walks and 10 earned runs. It was the worst start in Eickhoff’s six-year career and the Braves took full advantage.
Even with Eickhoff out of the game, Atlanta didn’t stop scoring. After McNeil brought the Mets’ deficit down to seven in the bottom of the fifth, the Braves struck back in the top of the sixth as Riley hit his second home run to take the lead to 12-3. That is where Atlanta would stay for the rest of the game as another strong effort by the Mets’ bullpen helped keep the game within arm’s reach. The Mets did battle back, but only managed to score another two runs to give the Braves a 12-5 victory.
Game 4 Preview and Probable Pitchers (NYM) Tylor Megill vs (ATL) Max Fried
Five-game series are tough, especially when it comes to managing pitchers. Unfortunately for the Mets, a bullpen game on Monday followed up by an early exit from Eickhoff on Tuesday, means New York has taxed their relief pitchers a lot over this series. For that reason, Tylor Megill’s start is going to be critically important on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old righty hasn’t been in the rotation long, having just made his Major League debut about a month ago. In that short span, Megill has been good, tossing 30 innings over six games with 33 strikeouts and a 2.10 ERA. Megill began his career a little shaky, giving up five runs in his first 9.1 innings pitched, both of which were against the Braves. Since July however, the rookie has only gotten better. He is coming off two starts of not allowing a single run and in the month of July, he has only allowed two. While he hasn’t pitched out of the sixth inning in a game yet this year, Megill should be able to give the Mets enough to give their overtaxed pen a little bit of a breather.
For the Braves, they will turn to their own young lefty in Max Fried. The 27-year-old reached ace status for Atlanta last year but 2021 has largely been an up-and-down year with more negatives than positives. Outside of a strong May that saw Fried return to his 2020 form (2.25 ERA in 11 starts last year), the rest of the season has been rough. Fried has allowed 10 or more runs in three of the season’s first four months including July, where he has given up at least three runs in three of his four starts. In the month, Fried has surrendered 26 hits and 13 earned runs, over just 22 innings pitched.
While the Braves have shown that they can score with the best of them, they’ll certainly be looking for more out of Fried at Citi Field today. In his two starts against the Mets this year, Fried has pitched well, allowing just three runs in 11 innings. That said, Fried has struggled on the road this year, posting a 6.55 ERA compared to a 3.14 in Truist Field.
Our Preview’s Game 4 Atlanta Braves at New York Mets Predictions Verdict with Picks
The MLB trade deadline is just days away and you can expect both the Braves and Mets to be players in that market, especially given how the rest of this series shakes out. On paper, the pitching matchup does favor the Mets, and the way this series has gone so far, it wouldn’t be surprising to see these teams continue to trade wins. So our picks and betting predictions for this preview are:
- Take the Mets to win on the moneyline @ -126 with Intertops or -127 with BetOnline. It is -130 with Bovada.
- Go over 7.5 runs @ -115 with Intertops.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.