Tonight at 7:35, the Mets begin a three-game series against the Braves at Turner Field.The Braves ended the first half 46-39, four games behind the Nationals and a half a game in front of the Mets in the NL East. They finished up the first half with a devastating sweep of the Phillies.The Braves have been a balanced team this season and haven't been particularly great at anything. Their bullpen ERA is 13th in baseball and their starters' ERA ranks 18th. On offense, they are 13th in on-base percentage and 14th in slugging percentage.On paper this season, they should have had a fantastic pitching staff. However, they suffered a big blow last month, losing young ace Brandon Beachey. Since then, they have experimented with young prospects to fill in. The Braves have reportedly been interested in acquiring an ace before the July 31 trade deadline. Zack Greinke
, Matt Garza
, and others could be targeted by the Atlanta front office. They also recently signed Ben Sheets
, who will be on the mound on Sunday.On offense, the Braves are pretty average. Jason Heyward
has had a nice season, hitting .272 with 14 home runs. Michael Bourn
is hitting a career-high .311 at the plate. However, Freddie Freeman
and Dan Uggla
have had down years. Uggla has only hit 12 home runs and is batting .221. Freeman, their 22 year-old first baseman who had an excellent rookie campaign last year, has seen his batting average drop by 20 points and his on-base percentage drop by 30 points.Pitching Matchups:Game 1- Tonight 7:35Chris Young
(2-2, 3.41 ERA) vs. Tim Hudson
(7-4, 3.56 ERA)Game 2- Saturday 4:05R.A. Dickey
(12-1, 2.40 ERA) vs. Tommy Hanson
(10-5, 3.71 ERA)Game 3- Sunday 1:35Johan Santana
(6-5, 3.24 ERA) vs. Ben Sheets (Has not pitched this year)Notes:
- Jonny Venters was placed on the DL about a week ago. Normally, this wouldn't be a huge deal. However, with all the left-handed bats in the Mets lineup, Venters being out means Terry Collins has one less thing to worry about in the late innings.
- 22 year-old shortstop Andrelton Simmons was placed on the DL three days ago with a finger injury. Simmons was batting .296 in 115 at-bats for the Braves this season.
- Ben Sheets will be making his first start since July 19, 2010.
- How is Tim Hudson still so good? He is 36 (turning 37 on Saturday) and he is still pitching just as well as he was five years ago. The guy is the picture of consistency.
- Johan Santana's ankle is fine. He will almost certainly be good to go on Sunday...