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MLB: Braves, Mets begin season series

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The Atlanta Braves will send a resurgent Max Fried to the mound on Monday as they open a three-game homestand against the New York Mets, the leaders in the National League East.

Over the weekend, the Braves won two out of three at Milwaukee, losing 10-9 on Sunday in a wild game that saw Atlanta rally to score seven runs in the seventh inning but fall short. The Mets have dropped three straight after being swept by Tampa Bay in a three-game road series.

Fried (1-1, 6.55) will be opposed by New York’s Taijuan Walker (3-1, 2.20) in the first game of the series. It is the first meeting between the two teams this season.

Walker will be making his eighth start and opposing batters are hitting just .170 against him. In his most recent start against Baltimore on May 12, the right-hander pitched seven innings and allowed one run on four hits, three walks and four strikeouts. He’s given up just two runs, one earned, in a combined 14 innings in his past two starts and he picked up the victory in both.

Walker has made two career starts against the Braves, going 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA. Both those appearances came in 2017 when he was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Fried has looked sharp in two appearances since returning from the injured list. In his most recent start on May 12 against Toronto, the lefty allowed one run in six innings, but did not get a decision. He has given up two runs and six hits in 11 innings since his return.

Fried is 3-1 with a 2.88 ERA in 13 career appearances, eight starts, against the Mets. He was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts against the Mets in 2020 and beat New York on Sept. 18, a game the Braves won 15-2.

The Mets may be forced to make a roster move. They possibly lost Michael Conforto (right hamstring) and Jeff McNeil (left hamstring) on Sunday, but it won’t be known until later Monday when each undergoes an MRI if either will need to go on the injured list. McNeil missed time with a hamstring strain and back cramps earlier in the week.

“Right now, hamstring issues are no joke,” said Mets manager Luis Rojas. “You are definitely concerned. You are talking about a few days, but we want to have those results so we can start talking about a timeline or what kind of approach we want to take.”

Meanwhile the Braves are trying to work around bullpen issues. Closer Will Smith has been taxed, working three times in four days, and the club is being careful with Chris Martin, who just got off the injured list with right shoulder inflammation.

“We have guys down there,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Everybody in that bullpen has to share the load, because we can’t keep using the core group of guys and have them (remain healthy).”

The bullpen allowed five runs on Sunday and saw their cumulative ERA rise to 4.94. The bullpen has blown six of 14 save opportunities.

The Braves could get right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. back on Monday. He missed three starts with a sore left ankle but was used as a pinch-hitter on Sunday and struck out.

–Field Level Media

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