What to look for: Mets vs. Braves, 1:35 PM
The Mets will go for their first four-game sweep of the Braves since 1989 on Sunday afternoon at Turner Field in Atlanta at 1:35 pm.
Here is today’s starting lineup for New York:
Curtis Granderson – RF
Daniel Murphy – 2B
Lucas Duda – 1B
Juan Uribe – 3B
Michael Conforto – LF
Kirk Nieuwenhuis – CF
Ruben Tejada – SS
Kevin Plawecki – C
Jonathon Niese – LHP
Here is today’s pitching matchup:
Jon Niese (8-10, 4.36 ERA) will start for the Mets.
Ryan Weber (0-1, 3.00 ERA) will start for the Braves.
Here’s what I’m looking for from the Mets today:
Tighten that grip.
Terry Collins said on Saturday night the Mets are not letting up despite seemingly increasing their almost insurmountable lead in the National League East daily. They’re going with a somewhat abbreviated starting squad on Sunday, but it’s still a formidable lineup, especially against the Braves which are about as fragmented a club as anyone in the league right now.
Terry Collins and the coaching staff have injected the right amount of energy on a daily basis while ensuring people get necessary rest as needed, pushing all the right buttons to this point. A win today would make it that much more difficult for the Nationals, who basically have to run the table and hope the Mets fall off a cliff over the final three weeks of the season.
A test for Jon Niese.
Niese has admittedly been terrible over his last four starts, allowing 42 base runners and 23 earned runs in only 19 2/3 innings over that span. He has allowed the opposition to score five runs in a single inning in each of his last three starts. His pitches have all been flat, he’s lacked that good downward trajectory on pretty much everything, he can’t seem to get his cutter inside enough and his two-seamer is not moving far enough off the outside corner to the right-handed hitters.
He looks very much like he did in his rut during the month of May.
The Mets really need Niese to right the ship beginning on Sunday. With Matt Harvey’s status uncertain through October, they need Niese to step up and start pitching well again.
A good performance today, and getting that quality downward movement back on his pitches could be the confidence booster he needs for the home stretch.
Another test for the bullpen.
Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia are unavailable, so the Mets are going to have to figure out the eighth inning without him today. The Mets will have Hansel Robles back today, and the Mets should have a pretty fresh set of relievers to put together the late innings if needed on Sunday.
It’s just another in a long list of tests for the Mets bullpen to overcome this season. In looking at how well they’ve pitched over the last week and the depth they’ve been able to build, the Mets should be fine at this stage of the game without the overworked Clippard and Familia for a day or so.