As the second half of the Major League Baseball season begins, one of the biggest storylines to watch will be in the National League East. We won't get a lot of answers right away, but the series between the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves will tell us something.
The Mets have stuck around a lot longer than anyone assumed they would this season. Their offense is going to have to keep overachieving, but the starting staff is carrying them right now. They do need a lot of things to go right to stay in the race.
The Braves don't seem like they have played their best baseball. We keep waiting for them to do more, so maybe we just have to accept that they are what their record says they are. As long as Chipper Jones, Jason Heyward and Michael Bourn all remain healthy and productive, the offense will be okay.
Where: Turner Field in Atlanta, GA
When: July 13-15
Watch: MSG Network (New York); Peachtree Network (Atlanta)
Live Streaming: MLB.tv
Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
New York Mets
Questionable: OF Andres Torres (Back), SP Johan Santana (Ankle)
7-Day DL: OF Jason Bay (Concussion)
15-Day DL: RP Frank Francisco (Oblique), SP Dillon Gee (Fingers), OF Mike Baxter (Shoulder)
60-Day DL: SP Mike Pelfrey (Elbow)
Questionable: SP Tim Hudson (Ankle)
15-Day DL: RP Robert Fish (Elbow), SS Andrelton Simmons (Finger), RP Jonny Venters (Elbow), SP Brandon Beachy (Elbow), RP Arodys Vizcaino (Elbow)
Friday: Tim Hudson (7-4, 3.56 ERA) vs. Chris Young (2-2, 3.41 ERA)
Saturday: Tommy Hanson (10-5, 3.71 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (12-1, 2.40 ERA)
Sunday: TBD vs. TBD
David Wright, 3B, New York Mets
I have done a few previews involving the Mets, and in all of them Wright's name has appeared. There are two reasons for that. One, Wright is really, really good and having one of his best seasons.
The other reason is, the Mets don't have a lot else on offense worth watching or paying attention to.
Wright is carrying the load for this team in 2012, and doing an admirable job. He is going to have to keep up the pace in the second half if the Mets hope to stay in the race.
Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves
After a slow start to the season, Heyward is starting to play like he did in his rookie season of 2010. His swing is still not all the way back after his injury-plagued 2011, but you can see it starting to come around.
If Santana starts the Sunday game, then be wary of starting Heyward. As good as he has looked, he is still trying to find himself against left-handed pitching. I think there are big things in store for Heyward in the second half.
I like the Braves on the road in this series. I think Dickey will give them problems on Saturday, but they will sandwich that game with two victories.
Atlanta wins 2-1