The series of the year is finally upon us. Starting Friday night, the Mets play three games in Atlanta on a weekend that may ultimately decide their playoff fate.
Enough has already been spoken on the magnitude of this matchup. Let’s jump right into it and look at the three biggest keys for New York to come away with the series win against the Braves.
Pitching, pitching, and more pitching
The Mets were dealt a pair of aces, and they’ve brought their winning duo down to Truist Park for this weekend’s tilt. With both Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer scheduled to start the first two games (along with Chris Bassitt on Sunday), the Mets have their best ready for this matchup.
We’ve seen Jake and Max dominate virtually all year; they’ll have to be on their A game against one of the league’s best lineups. Pitching wins games in October, and this series will surely have the pressure of a postseason game. The Mets need their aces to be at their best when it counts most.
Keep letting Eduardo Escobar eat
One of baseball’s hottest hitters this month, the Mets will be in a prime position to win this weekend if Eduardo Escobar stays hot.
With a 1.017 OPS and eight homers in September, Escobar has turned his season around in a huge way. After batting under .200 in the month of August, Escobar had his Mets moment on Wednesday evening, knocking in all five runs for New York, including a walk-off single in extra innings.
Not typically considered one of the team’s “star” players, he’s every bit as important to this lineup as anyone else on the roster. Continuing to hit – and drive in runs – down in Atlanta would be a storybook way for Escobar to cap off his first regular season in a Mets uniform.
The Mets have faced the Braves enough to know Atlanta presents a deep lineup that can do damage at any time. And for a Mets bullpen that has been shaky at times this year (outside of Edwin Díaz), that could spell disaster once the aces depart.
While, yes, it’s ultimately up to guys like Adam Ottavino and Seth Lugo to bridge that gap from the starters to the ninth inning, a major factor will be how Buck Showalter manages the bullpen. When signs of trouble emerge, Buck should move on to the next arm. Have faith in your pitchers, but also manage cautiously.
This is also where a guy like Trevor Williams will be super important, as someone who can be an effective long-man and pitch multiple innings if things start to get out of hand. All that said, in a series expected to be close throughout, Buck’s managerial tactics and how he handles the bullpen may end up being the difference between wins and losses this weekend.
I believe in Buck. And I believe in the Mets.
More on ESNY:
• Mets shock baseball, call up top prospect Francisco Alvarez
• How can the Jets beat the Steelers? Run the ball
• Marlins trying to recruit Mets fans to fill up loanDepot park
• Yankees-Blue Jays takeaways: Aaron Judge makes history, Bombers clinch
• WATCH: Michael Kay roasts Vladimir Guerrero Jr. after Yankees’ clinching win