The final game of the season is meaningless in the standings for the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, but Sunday’s matchup of the starting pitchers holds great fascination.
The visiting Mets will start right-hander Noah Syndergaard (0-0, 0.00 ERA) against Atlanta’s Charlie Morton (14-6, 3.39) in what typically would be a marquee matchup, but it more than likely will be a short stint for both.
The Braves (87-73) and Mets (77-84) have split 18 games, and New York needs a victory to become the only team in the National League East to win a season series against Atlanta.
Morton isn’t likely to throw more than three innings since he’s been designated by the Braves as their starter for the first game of the NL Division Series, which begins Friday in Milwaukee against the Brewers. Syndergaard is likely to pitch just one inning; he worked one frame on Tuesday when he pitched for the first time since Sept. 29, 2019.
Syndergaard struck out two of the three batters he faced against Miami upon his return from Tommy John surgery. It could be the last appearance for Syndergaard with the Mets — he’ll become a free agent after the season — but he was touched by the emotion shown by the New York fans.
“When I was walking out of the dugout hearing the fans, I almost shed a tear,” Syndergaard said. “I’m not an emotional guy but it got to me.”
Syndergaard became the 64th player used by the team this season, a franchise record for most players used. He is the 19th starting pitcher used.
Morton, who posted a 2.77 ERA over his final 17 regular-season appearance, has made 13 postseason appearances, 12 of them starts, and has a 3.38 ERA.
In his most recent start on Tuesday against Philadelphia, Morton threw seven shutout innings to set the tone for the team’s three-game sweep that gave the Braves their fourth straight NL East championship.
“Charlie just keeps his cool,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He goes pitch-to-pitch and tries to win the at-bat. This is exactly why we hired him. The moment doesn’t get too big for him, I know that. He does a great job staying with the next pitch and not getting caught up in the big picture.”
Snitker has given all his regulars time off during the past two games, but most are expected to start on Sunday. Freddie Freeman went 2-for-3 on Saturday to bring his batting average to .300.
Ozzie Albies, who did not play on Saturday, would like a chance to add another double to his career year. One more two-bagger would put him in elite company among players to have three seasons of at least 40 doubles, 20 homers and five triples. The list of players to achieve the feat includes seven Hall of Fame members and one other active player — the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts.
New York’s Francisco Lindor picked up his 1,000th career hit on Saturday. Javier Baez needs one more home run to reach 150 for his career and Jonathan Villar is two homers shy of 100.
–Field Level Media