Atlanta Braves about to start a must win series against the Mets

Atlanta Braves v Arizona Diamondbacks
Atlanta Braves v Arizona Diamondbacks / Chris Coduto/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Braves are coming off a well-earned series win over the Arizona Diamondbacks and after an off-day on Monday, they are about to start a very important series against the New York Mets. Here is a look at how things stand going into the pivotal series.

State of the N.L East

Are the Atlanta Braves threatened by the Mets like last season? From where it stands now, the answer so far is no. As of June 5th, The Mets are 30-30, the Marlins are 32-28, and the Phillies are 27-32. The Marlins are closer to the Braves at 3.5 games back, while the Mets trail at 5.5. The Mets had a tough stretch in April, getting rolled over by the Tigers and Rockies; despite a boost with a series win over the Guardians, which got the Mets back over .500, they have since slumped again with a sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays. 

Shaky pen

The Braves haven’t been playing the best baseball recently either, with a series loss to the A’s and a tight series to the Diamondbacks. With the Mets coming to town on Tuesday, will it be the series the Braves use to get back on the horse? Or will it be the series that put the Mets back into the thick of it? Taking 2 out of 3 from the Mets may be just what the Braves need to widen the gap in the division. For the Mets, a series win is crucial.

For the Braves, it’s a potential fire igniter. The biggest issue for the Braves has been pitching; while the starters have been superb, with the best ERA in MLB, the bullpen has been shaky. And that's putting it nicely. The Braves can't continue to bank on other teams in the N.L. East to play like they are now while they lounge at .500 ball. They are lucky the Mets and Phillies have had such awful starts to the season because the Braves would be in trouble if the opposite were the case. 

The implications of a series win

Since the middle of May, the Braves have been able to drop games to below-average teams and stay afloat due to the mediocrity of their divisional opponents, yet they can't continue this way of playing. We all know how fast a division lead can shrink; just look at the Mets last year. This series has the potential to be a kick starter for the Braves, who have played rather timidly. We all know how the Braves can fire up at any moment, and a perfect moment is this week. If the Braves drop this series, simply “shaking it off” won’t be enough.

A serious examination of the last three weeks will be needed to find out exactly what and who isn’t clicking if the Braves fail to capitalize. A series loss will move the Mets far closer than the Braves would like, but this can be avoided with the basics. From where it stands, so much more is riding on the series than we think. Anything less than taking it from the Mets will only push the Braves further into the category of mediocrity. This must be avoided at all costs. There was no excuse for losing a series to the A’s. There will surely be none for losing one to the Mets.