It’s the wrap-up of the first Sunday of the new 60-game MLB season. A series win is imperative to get this unique year off to a great start and that’s where we’re at as the Braves and Mets have split on Friday and Saturday. Fanduel Sportsbook odds have this one as an absolute toss-up with both Atlanta and New York being listed at -108.
There may be no division in baseball where the need to win every game is more important than the NL East. The Braves, Mets, Phillies and Nationals are all contenders to win not only the division but to make a hefty postseason run. Sunday features the last of a three-game series between the two rivals with first pitch scheduled for 7:08 pm ET.
For Sunday’s game, the Braves will send southpaw Sean Newcomb to the mound to square off with the Mets’ Rick Porcello.
Braves Looking For Dynamic Youngsters To Set The Tone
The Atlanta Braves easily have one of the most dynamic cores of young stars in the league. No player’s star might be shining brighter than outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. Last season, Acuna hit .280/.365/.518 with 41 home runs, 101 runs batted in, 127 runs scored and 37 stolen bases in just his second major league season.
Still only 22-years-old and signed to an eight-year, $100 million contract (with two team options), Acuna should be a star in Atlanta for years to come.
Another superstar on the team is veteran first baseman, Freddie Freeman. Having tested positive for COVID-19, Freeman was a little late to spring training 2.0, but is a full go for the season at this point. Last year, Freeman hit .295/.389/.549 with 38 home runs, 121 runs batted in and 113 runs scored.
On the mound Sunday will be lefty Sean Newcomb. He spent most of his time last year out of the bullpen but will be given another opportunity to crack the starting rotation as the ’20 season begins. In 2019, Newcomb went 6-3 in 55 games (4 starts) with a 3.16 ERA, 1.32 WHIP while striking out 65 in 68.1 innings of work.
Mets Looking For Better Results Within Division
After finishing 86-76, good for third in the NL East last year (11 games behind the Braves), the Mets are hoping for better fortunes this season. Playing at home is an advantage as they were 48-33 at Citi Field last season versus 38-43 on the road.
On the mound for the Mets Sunday will be right-hander Rick Porcello. After Marcus Stroman was put on the injured list, Porcello was bumped up in the rotation to face the Braves. Last season, with the Boston Red Sox, Porcello went 14-12 with a 5.52 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 143 strikeouts in 174.1 innings pitched.
While those may not be the most inspiring numbers ever – particularly the ERA – Porcello has generally been a workhorse who can put in quality innings. The Mets are hoping this inning-eater can stabilize their rotation and ease the stress on relievers.
Offensively, Pete Alonso showed last season that he can be a threat anytime he steps up to the plate. In his rookie season last year Alonso hit .260/.358/.583 with a whopping 53 home runs, 120 runs batted in and 103 runs scored. At just 24-years-old, the Mets certainly have a star in their organization with Alonso.
Betting On Newcomb and Atlanta
This matchup might be a bit of a coin flip but I am really interested to see what Sean Newcomb can do this year. Last season as a reliever he finally seemed to figure things out, attacking hitters and controlling pitches. If Newcomb can keep that mentality as a starter, he could be a bright spot for the Braves this season.
I do think that both sides will put up some runs in this one but ultimately I like Newcomb’s chances of keeping it a bit more manageable for the Braves.
Pick: Braves -108