5 things to watch as Mets continue homestand with four-game set against Braves

New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) is greeted by first baseman Pete Alonso (20) after hitting a home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fourth inning at Citi Field.
New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) is greeted by first baseman Pete Alonso (20) after hitting a home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fourth inning at Citi Field. / John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Here are five things to watch as the Mets face off with the division rival Atlanta Braves in a four-game weekend set at Citi Field starting on Friday night at 7:10 p.m. on SNY.

1. Alonso’s leading the way

Pete Alonso’s gotten back to doing his thing in the middle of the Mets lineup over the past few weeks.

The slugger enjoyed one of his best series of the season to begin the homestand. He homered twice and tied his career-high with six RBI en route to an 11-2 rout of the red-hot Cubs.

Alonso followed that up with another long ball and accounted for all the offense in Tuesday’s loss. And Wednesday night in the series finale, he capped off the strong series reaching base three times, including another two-run homer and added a stolen base.

Following the series opening win, Alonso told reporters he’s back to feeling “super confident” at the plate and he certainly has shown that.

The big man now has hits in all but two games this month. Looking even further he ranks among the league leaders with nine homers, 25 RBI, 14 extra-base hits, and a 1.187 OPS since July 20. 

Even after his rough path at the plate, Alonso remains third in all of baseball with 35 homers and 87 RBI on the year. He’s just five home runs behind the NL leader, Atlanta’s Matt Olson, who the Mets will have to deal with this series.

Alonso will look to keep things going this weekend and get some revenge on the Braves, who caused him to land on the IL earlier this season when right-hander Charlie Morton struck him on the wrist with a fastball

2. Lindor remains red hot

Alongside Alonso, Francisco Lindor has been red hot for the Mets offense as well.

The star shortstop is currently riding a seven-game hitting streak and he’s reached base in all but one game so far in August. He’s hitting a stellar .379 with two doubles, a homer, four RBI, and a 1.007 OPS this month.

After a bit of a rough stretch in the middle of the season, Lindor has been one of the top shortstops in all of baseball. He remains atop almost every major offensive category at the position.

Since the beginning of June, he’s hitting .272 with a .373 OBP, .888 OPS, ten doubles, two triples, 12 homers, and 29 RBI. Lindor’s added fourteen stolen bases and he’s gotten caught just once over that span.

He’s now up to 22 home runs, 25 doubles, 69 RBI, 72 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, and a .803 OPS on the year. He’s played Gold Glove caliber defense and has accumulated a 4.4 WAR, which ranks 11th in baseball.

While not much has been going right for the Mets since selling at the deadline, at least their stars are producing. Alonso and Lindor will look to lead the way this weekend against the Braves.

New York Mets starting pitcher Tylor Megill (38) pitches in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field.
New York Mets starting pitcher Tylor Megill (38) pitches in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field. / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

3. Senga’s first start against Braves

Making his start on regular rest, Kodai Senga shined for the Mets in the series opening win over the Cubs.

Pitching with his wife and kids in attendance for the first time, he allowed just two runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out six. He didn’t allow any extra-base hits in the rain-shortened effort.

Senga has now recorded a quality start in four of his last five outings, losing just one of those efforts. Over that span, he’s pitched to a 2.57 ERA and 1.20 WHIP while striking out 41 batters and walking just 11.

After a bit of an adjustment period, Senga has been lights out in his first season with the Mets.

He’s cut down his walks and has posted a 3.24 ERA (third in NL), 1.30 WHIP, and 142 strikeouts (tenth in NL) through his first 21 outings. His signature ghost-forkball has been extremely effective, generating the highest whiff rate in baseball (58.9 percent).

Senga’s been spectacular and has certainly pitched like the ace the Mets need him to be with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer gone.

He’ll be back on extra rest this weekend as he’s scheduled to face the high powered Braves lineup for the first time in his career in Sunday night’s series finale.

4. New York looks to contain Acuna Jr.

Every time these two teams face off this is going to be one of the keys of the series, especially this season. Star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. has been putting up MVP-caliber numbers all year long.

The 25-year-old superstar is hitting an absurd .341 with 26 homers, 69 RBI, 53 stolen bases, and a 1.010 OPS. He remains close to or at the top of the league leaderboards in almost every major offensive category.

Acuna has a hit in all but two games this month, including five multi-hit games and six extra-base hits.

While he’s raked against everyone this season, he’s been especially good when facing the Mets pitching staff. In six games so far, he’s hitting .409 with a .458 OBP, a homer, two doubles, and a 1.095 OPS.

Acuna left Tuesday’s game against the Pirates after being hit on the left elbow by a 97 mph sinker, but he was able to return for Wednesday’s series finale in Pittsburgh.

The Mets will look to keep the NL MVP candidate at bay this weekend. Perhaps his younger brother, newly acquired top prospect Luisangel Acuna, was able to share some tips on how to get him out.

5. Can Megill find his groove?

Tylor Megill was roughed up in his return to the big league rotation this past weekend at Camden Yards.

The 28-year-old allowed five runs on nine hits, two of which were homers, while striking out just three in 4.2 innings of work in a loss to the high flying Orioles. He now has a 5.45 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in what’s been a very frustrating season.

While the results weren’t quite what Megill and the Mets were hoping for, Buck Showalter was at least encouraged with his stuff saying postgame that he “looked more like himself” out there.

Megill’s struggles continued at the Triple-A level (8.67 ERA and 1.70 WHIP) but the skipper is at least encouraged with what he saw as far as the tweaks go.

The righty is receiving an extra day of rest this time around, so he’ll look to put it all together and finally get trending in the right direction in the series opener on Friday night.

When Megill faced the Braves earlier this season it was one of his stronger starts of the year, as he allowed three runs on just four hits while striking out four across 5.2 innings.

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