New York Mets get set to take on the young Atlanta Braves

Washington Nationals v New York Mets
Washington Nationals v New York Mets / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

As the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves are ready to do battle for the first time this weekend, it’s interesting to see how the rivals have fared thus far and how they compare with each other.

Every Mets fan is aware that the Braves overtook the Mets late in the 2022 season, yet still didn’t advance very far in the post season. But what was impressive was that the Braves, with the exception of star shortstop Dansby Swanson, were decimated by injuries. That necessitated the call up of outfielder Michael Harris, infielder Vaughn Grissom, and pitchers Bryce Elder, Dylan Lee, and Spencer Strider.

Amazingly, all of them performed well and are now each playing a significant role this season. Harris, although earning the starting centerfield job after an outstanding 2022 campaign, is on the injured list and not currently on the active roster. But Elder (2-0 with a 2.17 ERA in five starts) and Strider (3-0 and 1.80 ERA in five starts) have both become reliable starters in a rotation that already included Charlie Morton (3-2, 2.76 ERA) and Max Fried (1-0, 0.60 ERA).

New York Mets fans had been yelling from the rafters to promote their young talents as well.

When the Mets were struggling with injuries a year ago, they gave three of their four top position players a chance to perform on the Major League level. It didn’t exactly work out…as Brett Baty, Mark Vientos, and Francisco Alvarez all seemed overmatched and overwhelmed.

The Mets front office didn’t do much, if anything, actually nothing, to add to the Mets lineup. Oh, wait, they got rid of James McCann and brought in Omar Narvaez. That’s right. And they cut Darin Ruf loose, so I guess that is addition by subtraction?

But with Eduardo Escobar again struggling to start the season, management was forced to again promote Baty who was tearing up Triple A. And then when Narvaez went down with an injury, they were forced to again promote Alvarez, who was also tearing up Triple A. Neither Baty, nor Alvarez, has been able to translate the early success in the minors to rewards in the Big Leagues. Not yet.

And with the Mets offensive attack (I don’t know if “attack” is the right word at this time) floundering, there is a call for management to bring up Vientos – a huge power bat who, also, is tearing up Triple A – to protect Pete Alonso in the lineup. But just like Baty and Alvarez have struggled to match their Triple A production, Vientos, too, may just suffer the same fate.

Then there’s the fourth “prospect” whom everyone would love to see finally make his debut, Ronny Mauricio, the one who supposedly has the most to offer – a switch-hitter with power and speed, but with no place to put him since he has only really been a shortstop. The Mets hierarchy finally made the move to get him reps at second base just recently. But why did they wait so long? Francisco Lindor is in his third season as the Mets shortstop - Mauricio could have had two-plus seasons to hone his craft at another position.

The Braves star player, Acuna, is leading the team with a .363 average, but has only 4 HR and 12 RBI. Leading the team with 7 HR each are first baseman Matt Olson and, believe it or not, second baseman Ozzie Albies.

The Braves are in first place thanks to the success of their young talent, especially their pitching, resting on the arms of Strider and Elder in the rotation and Lee out of the pen.

The Mets, on the other hand, have not been able to harness any of the young talent from the minor league system. Baty and Alvarez have not, yet, lived up to expectations, and Vientos and even Mauricio are not a lock to duplicate their production from down below.

The Mets pitching staff, after losing Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt, and Taijuan Walker did not get younger, in fact, it got older. And even though Tylor Megill and David Peterson have each shown spurts of promise, they have been mostly inconsistent and frustrating. Even Japanese import Kodai Senga has struggled and exhibited wildness in his early going in the Major Leagues.

The Mets are currently behind the Braves in the standings, and behind the Braves in promoting young players who can provide immediate returns. Probably why Mets fans are talking about some guy from California rather than reveling over some guy, any guy, from Syracuse.