NEW YORK -- For the Atlanta Braves, this weekend will be about getting a look at the two new players they acquired in hopes of reaching the playoffs for the first time in five years. For the New York Mets, this weekend will be about seeing more of the same familiar faces that have contributed to what could be the franchise's worst season this century.
A pair of teams that took decidedly different approaches at the trade deadline will meet Thursday night, when the Braves visit the Mets in the opener of a four-game series at Citi Field.
Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (7-7, 3.04 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Mets left-hander Jason Vargas (2-6, 8.36).
The Braves beat the visiting Miami Marlins 11-6 on Tuesday night before Wednesday night's series finale was rained out. The Mets fell to the host Washington Nationals 5-3 Wednesday afternoon to cap an embarrassing two-game sweep after Tuesday's 25-4 drubbing -- the worst in franchise history.
The Braves (57-47) are a half-game behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East and a half-game out of the second-wild card spot behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks, who are tied for first in the NL West. Atlanta, which was a combined 75 games under .500 since the 2014 season, fortified itself for the stretch run Monday and Tuesday, when it acquired outfielder Adam Duvall and starting pitcher Kevin Gausman in deals with the Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles, respectively.
The right-handed hitting Duvall will almost certainly make his Braves debut against Vargas on Thursday. Manager Brian Snitker said Wednesday night that Gausman will make his first start Saturday night instead of Friday, as originally planned before the rainout.
"I like what we've added," Snitker told reporters Tuesday night. "I think we are a better team right now. (They got) some pieces that I think are going to help going forward."
With an uncertain front office situation but a rotation filled with young building blocks, the Mets (44-61) chose to basically keep all the pieces of a team that is battling to stay out of the basement in the NL East.
The Mets, who are on pace for 94 losses, are in a virtual tie for fourth place with the Marlins. New York hasn't finished in last place since 2003, when it went 66-95 -- its most losses since a 103-loss campaign in 1993.
The Mets traded closer Jeurys Familia to the Oakland Athletics on July 21 and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera on Friday but otherwise stood pat despite outside calls to fetch offers for ace-caliber right-handers Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard as well as improving righty Zack Wheeler.
In doing so, the Mets delayed decisions until a permanent general manager is in place. The trio of John Ricco, Omar Minaya and J.P. Ricciardi are filling the role in place of Sandy Alderson, who took a likely permanent leave of absence in June to fight a recurrence of cancer.
"I don't think that necessarily means we've committed to one direction or another heading into the offseason," Ricco told reporters Tuesday afternoon. "It gives us another two months to evaluate not only the players themselves but our club in general. It allows us to make a more informed decision this offseason with regards to the direction moving forward."
Foltynewicz continued his recent struggles Friday, when he dropped his second straight start after allowing four runs over five innings as the Braves fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-1. He is 1-3 with a 6.66 ERA over his last five starts.
Vargas didn't factor into the decision Friday, when he allowed three runs over 4 1/3 innings as the Mets lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4. He hasn't pitched more than five innings in any of his first 10 starts this season, which is the longest streak to open a season in big league history by a traditional starter. The Tampa Bay Rays' Ryne Stanek has pitched two innings or fewer in all 16 of his "starts" this season as the Rays' "opener."
Foltynewicz is 0-1 with a 7.04 ERA in four games (three starts) against the Mets. Vargas is 1-1 with a 4.97 ERA in four games (three starts) against the Braves.