The Atlanta Braves have impacted the National League wild-card race in a big way the past two days. And there’s a chance they could impact the American League one as well.
The Braves are 9-9 against the New York Mets and 51-82 against everyone else this season. Most significantly, they’ve won two straight -- winning 5-4 on Tuesday -- just when it looked like the Mets were going to run away with the wild card. They’ll wrap up their series Wednesday.
The potential AL impact will depend on the Detroit Tigers, who helped their chances Tuesday by gaining a game on the Baltimore Orioles in the wild-card race. The Tigers will end the year at Turner Field, playing the final games in the history of that ballpark, potentially for their postseason lives.
First baseman Freddie Freeman may be toiling for a team with a terrible record, but he is arguably the NL’s best hitter this side of Joey Votto since the All-Star break. Freeman is slashing .324/.432/.636 over that span.
His slugging percentage ranks third in the majors since the break, behind Brian Dozier (.716) and Votto (.642). Every ball off Freeman’s bat is a laser. His 24 percent hard-hit rate in that span is third best in the majors, behind David Ortiz and Miguel Cabrera (25 percent each).
Freeman has a 24-game hitting streak, third longest in the majors this season and the longest by a Braves player since Dan Uggla hit in 33 straight in 2011.
Freeman’s line against the Mets this season is .389/.436/.611 with a 31 percent hard-hit rate. That’s nothing new. Freeman has hit .300 or better in four of his past five seasons against them with 70 RBIs in 89 games in that time (a 127-RBI pace over 162 games). He was 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs on Monday and 1-for-4 on Tuesday but had a key walk in the Braves’ sixth-inning rally.
Teheran causes the Mets trouble
Julio Teheran has repeatedly vexed the Mets this season, pitching to an 0.90 ERA in four starts, including one-run ball over seven innings on Tuesday. The two wins that Teheran has against the Mets are his only wins against teams that have a winning record. He’s 0-7 against all others.
Teheran’s 0.90 ERA against the Mets is the lowest against them by a pitcher who made at least four starts since Dennis Martinez had an 0.64 ERA against them in 1987.
Teheran is 6-10 with a 3.10 ERA this season. That ERA is best among pitchers with a losing record who qualify for the ERA title. He should next pitch Sunday and then Friday, the latter against the Tigers (he’s never faced Miguel Cabrera).
The put-away pitch for Teheran is his slider. Mets hitters went 2-for-23 against it in his first three starts. They had a hit and a walk with only one out against it on Tuesday, but it didn’t help them net a key win.