ATLANTA — The New York Mets have handled the three right-handed pitchers they’ve faced from the Atlanta Braves in this series. On Thursday, they will see if they can do the same against a lefty.
The Mets have scored 30 runs in the first three games against the Braves. But two of their hottest hitters are lefties who will be tested by Atlanta southpaw Jaime Garcia.
Garcia (1-1, 3.99 ERA) will be opposed by New York’s Zack Wheeler (1-2, 4.78), who grew up about 20 minutes from Atlanta’s Sun Trust Park. The Mets have won two of the first three games.
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“We knew at some time we were going to start getting some hits,” New York manager Terry Collins said. “You’re starting to see better at-bats, better pitch selection. That’s the big difference right now.”
Now they get to try it against a left-hander.
Jay Bruce is 4-for-14 with a double, a home run and six RBIs in the series. He is batting .257 with one homer and five RBIs against Garcia and is hitting .138 against left-handers this season. Michael Conforto has never faced Garcia but is batting .125 against lefties this year. Switch-hitting Jose Reyes is hitting .250 against Garcia and .111 against lefties this season.
Garcia has given the Braves a solid No. 4 starter. He has pitched at least six innings in four of his first five starts and has held the opposition to two runs in the last three. Garcia worked around some control issues in his last start against Milwaukee, when he issued five walks in notching his first victory as a Brave.
“He did a great job,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Jaime just kept pitching and pitching.”
Garcia lost to the Mets on April 6 and is 2-4 with a 3.06 ERA against New York in eight career starts.
Wheeler has helped tax the New York bullpen because of his inability to go deep in the game. In two of his five starts, he failed to work at least five innings. He received no decision in his last start, April 29 against Washington, when he was yanked after 4 2/3 innings. Wheeler walked four batters and allowed the leadoff batter to reach in four of the five innings.
Wheeler has been effective against the Braves. He is 4-2 with a 2.94 ERA in eight career starts. He beat Atlanta in 2013 in his major league debut. He has not faced the Braves this year.
Few Atlanta hitters have much history against Wheeler. The exception is Freddie Freeman, who is 7-for-14 with a homer and five RBIs against him.
No. 1 starter Noah Syndergaard will reportedly seek a second opinion about his right lat tear. The New York Post reported that Syndergaard will fly to Los Angeles to meet with a physician. Syndergaard left his last start on Sunday in the second inning and has been placed on the 10-day disabled list. His next turn in the rotation will be taken by right-hander Rafael Montero (0-2, 9.45).
After meeting nine times in the first four weeks of the season, the two clubs will take a short break from each other. They meet next in a three-game set in Atlanta on June 9-11 and don’t play again until September.