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Atlanta Braves Look To Start Second Half Strong Against Mets

Previewing this weekend's big series between the Mets and Braves in Atlanta.

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Baseball is finally back after a prolonged All-Star Break. The Braves, who sit four games back of the Nationals in the NL East, will welcome in the third place New York Mets for three games at Turner Field. Most pegged the Mets for last place at the beginning of the season, but the club has held strong throughout the first 86 games and sit just one-half game back of Atlanta in the standings.

David Wright is absolutely mashing the ball and is hitting to the tune of .351/.441/.536. His WAR of 4.9 ranks him second in all of baseball, which is quite the turnaround for a guy who was reportedly mentioned in a few trade whispers throughout the last year. If the Braves can shut Wright down in the series, they'll have no trouble handling New York's offense. That is far easier said than done though, and it's imperative the pitching staff doesn't make mistakes to the slugging third baseman.

Outside of Wright, young first baseman Ike Davis has really come on strong in recent weeks after an awful start to the season. Ruben Tejada is having a very nice year for the club with an OPS of .786 while playing solid defense at shortstop. Scott Hairston has seen plenty of playing time recently with Jason Bay injured, and he currently is tied for the team lead with 12 homers.

As a team, the Mets are sixth and tied with the Braves in batting average (.259), fourth in on-base percentage (.328) and 10th in slugging (.398).

Pitching Matchups & Start Times:

Friday, 7:35 p.m. ET - Tim Hudson (7-4, 3.56 ERA, 3.37 FIP) vs. Chris Young (2-2, 3.41 ERA, 3.63 FIP)

Saturday, 7:05 p.m. - Tommy Hanson (10-5, 3.71 ERA, 4.42 FIP) vs. R.A. Dickey (12-1, 2.40 ERA, 2.76 FIP)

Sunday, 1:35 p.m. - Ben Sheets (0-0) vs. Johan Santana (6-5, 3.24 ERA, 3.62 FIP)

For more on the Braves, check out Talking Chop. Mets fans can visit Amazin Avenue for their coverage.

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