After 299 days, the New York Mets (0-0) are set to play a real baseball game. A lot happened between Dom Smith’s walk-off homer against the Atlanta Braves (0-0) and today, including two managerial changes, a few nifty free agent signings, the team going up for sale twice, Noah Syndergaard’s Tommy John surgery, protracted ugly labor negotiations, and a global pandemic. Despite all of that, hope springs eternal as the Mets look to return to the (expanded) postseason for the first time since 2016. First pitch for Opening Day is scheduled for 4:10 p.m at Citi Field.
Today’s matchup against the Braves could be a big tone-setter for the National League East this season. Atlanta ran away with the division in 2019, going 97-65 before collapsing in the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals. The offseason looked to set up the Braves for big success with shrewd additions like Will Smith, Cole Hamels and Marcell Ozuna to shore up the roster. The pandemic has dented the Braves quite a bit as both Nick Markakis and Felix Hernandez opted out of the season while Smith and Freddie Freeman contracted the coronavirus. Freeman has since returned after a scary bout with the disease while Smith is still sidelined. Hamels is out with an arm injury, but the Braves shouldn’t be counted out given the amount of young talent they already possess.
The Mets will send their ace, right-hander Jacob deGrom (11-8, 2.43 ERA in 2019), to the mound today. deGrom has won the last two Cy Young Awards in the National League and will be looking to add a third straight Cy to his trophy collection. Atlanta will counter with young right-hander Mike Soroka (13-4, 2.68 ERA), who is looking to establish his place as one of the best young pitchers in baseball.
New York Mets Lineup:
- The Mets went 8-11 against the Braves in 2019, including a 4-5 mark at Citi Field.
- deGrom is 8-9 with a 2.14 ERA in his career against the Braves.
- Soroka is 4-0 with a 2.73 ERA in five starts against the Mets in his career.
- For the first time since 2018, Yoenis Cespedes is in the Mets’ starting lineup. Cespedes will serve as the designated hitter and bat fifth.
- The Braves’ top two catchers, Tyler Flowers and Travis d’Arnaud, are not with the team as they experienced coronavirus related symptoms while testing negative. Third-stringer Alex Jackson will catch and bat ninth.
- The Mets are the owners of baseball’s best record on Opening Day, going 38-20 in their first game, including three straight victories to start the season since 2017.