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Mets Vs. Braves: Rival Mets Visit Atlanta For A Weekend Series

Following a third straight series loss, the Atlanta Braves wrap up their homestand with a weekend series against the New York Mets.

After taking the first game of the series against the Marlins in a well-played 5-0 win, the Braves faltered against Josh Johnson in game two, and the pitching couldn't hold up despite a breakout of the bats in game three. Atlanta sits at 5-8, fourth in the division behind the Mets.

New York has followed a similar path to the Braves so far, winning their first series but losing every one since. They were on the losing end of a four-game sweep by the Rockies in their most recent series, including two straight losses on a doubleheader Thursday. The Mets sit at 4-9, fifth in the division.

Friday, April 15 - 7:35 (Peachtree TV/Fox Sports South)
D.J. Carrasco (6.2 IP, 4.05 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 4.81 xFIP, 4.05 BB/9, 5.40 K/9, 42.9 GB%, 6.3 SwStr%)
(41.5 CT%, 30.2 FB%, 24.5 CB%, 3.8 CH%; 41.9 Swing%, 84.1 Contact%)
Derek Lowe (18.2 IP, 1.45 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 2.97 xFIP, 2.41 BB/9, 7.23 K/9, 59.6 GB%, 8.7 SwStr%)
(45.3 FB%, 28.6 SL%, 17.7 CH%, 8.4 CT%; 41.1 Swing%, 78.7 Contact%)

D.J. Carrasco is receiving a spot start due to Chris Young's bicep tendinitis. He has pitched all of 6.2 relief innings this year, allowing three runs on seven hits. The 34-year-old has thrown a lot of cutters in his limited amount of innings while abandoning the slider. For a reliever, Carrasco throws a wide assortment of pitches, which plays well for these spot starts.

Derek Lowe backed off some on the strikeouts in his last start, but he continued to pitch well by allowing just two runs in seven innings against the Phillies. The one knock on the start was a large amount of fly balls, but he also induced his normal amount of ground balls, and the slider remained effective.

Saturday, April 16 - 4:10 (FOX)
Mike Pelfrey (11.2 IP, 10.80 ERA, 6.85 FIP, 6.53 xFIP, 6.94 BB/9, 4.63 K/9, 43.5 GB%, 5.8 SwStr%)
(65.3 FB%, 16.6 SF%, 12.7 SL%, 5.4 CB%; 44.2 Swing%, 85.1 Contact%)
Jair Jurrjens (2010: 116.1 IP, 4.64 ERA, 4.19 FIP, 4.29 xFIP, 3.25 BB/9, 6.65 K/9, 39.9 GB%, 8.9 SwStr%)
(63.9 FB%, 20.2 CH%, 15.9 SL%; 47.8 Swing%, 80.8 Contact%)

Mike Pelfrey hasn't been the pitcher the Mets were hoping we would be early in the season. In need of a frontline starter with the absence of Johan Santana, New York was counting heavily on Pelfrey to lead the staff, but it hasn't happened so far. He has allowed at least four runs in each of his first three starts, totaling 11.2 innings. His most recent was four runs in 5.1 innings against the Rockies. His control has also been off, walking four in two of the three starts.

Jair Jurrjens will receive his first start of the season in the Saturday afternoon game. He suffered a strained oblique during Spring Training and was placed on the disabled list as a precaution. Jurrjens made a rehab start in AAA Gwinnett on Monday, allowing three runs in six innings, including two walks and a homer. He may fight some rust in the early innings, but getting him back on the mound and working six innings is the most important thing.

Sunday, April 17 - 1:35 (Fox Sports South)
Chris Young (12.1 IP, 1.46 ERA, 2.59 FIP, 4.40 xFIP, 4.38 BB/9, 8.76 K/9, 20 GB%, 8.5 SwStr%)
(68.9 FB%, 15.3 SL%, 13.9 CH%, 1.9 CB%; 45.4 Swing%, 80.7 Contact%)
Tommy Hanson (16 IP, 3.38 ERA, 4.83 FIP, 4.45 xFIP, 2.81 BB/9, 4.50 K/9, 48 GB%, 5.5 SwStr%)
(56 FB%, 24.6 SL%, 14.7 CB%, 4.8 CH%; 41.8 Swing%, 85.7 Contact%)

Chris Young will pitch Sunday's game instead of Friday due to bicep tendinitis. He pitched a successful bullpen session Thursday and is deemed ready. The Mets need him healthy, because he has been their best starter to date, allowing only one run in each of his first two starts, including just one hit in seven innings against the Nationals last time out. Young is throwing a lot more changeups early in the season while backing off on the fastball some. All of his main pitches have been effective so far.

Tommy Hanson was a completely different pitcher in his most recent outing, pitching seven shutout innings on four hits against the Marlins, also inducing 13 ground balls. After a rough start to his season, doubts were raised about his effectiveness, but Hanson shut that down against Florida. His fastball command was a thousand times improved, and he used his slider more effectively.

The Mets bullpen has been up and down so far. Francisco Rodriguez has appeared in a limited number of games due to the team's losses, as well as the games finished clause the team is trying to avoid. Bobby Parnell has fallen out of favor as the setup guy, and Jason Isringhausen is among those expected to step up. Pedro Beato has stepped up with seven scoreless innings so far.

Projected Mets Lineup:
1. Jose Reyes, SS
2. Daniel Murphy, 2B
3. David Wright, 3B
4. Carlos Beltran, RF
5. Ike Davis, 1B
6. Angel Pagan, CF
7. Willie Harris, LF
8. Josh Thole, C

The Mets infield remains strong with Wright, Reyes, Murphy and Davis. The outfield leaves a little to be desired with Harris in left field, but Beltran and Pagan make up for it some. The lineup isn't as weak as people make it out to be, but it's a matter of keeping up with how many runs the pitching staff gives up.

For more on the series, Braves fans check out Talking Chop and Mets fans check out Amazin Avenue.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.