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Braves, minus Swanson, conclude series with Mets

By Jerry Beach, The Sports Xchange
Braves, minus Swanson, conclude series with Mets
Michael Conforto and the New York Mets take on the Atlanta Braves on Thursday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets head into Thursday hoping the Michael Conforto and Jason Vargas they have seen recently will be the Conforto and Vargas they will see in 2019. The Atlanta Braves are just hoping they will see Dansby Swanson next week.

The Mets and Braves play each other for the last time this season Thursday night in the finale of a three-game series at Citi Field. New York evened the series Wednesday, when Jacob deGrom put a bow on his Cy Young Award candidacy by earning the win with eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball in a 3-0 victory.

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The left-handed Vargas (6-9, 6.25 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Braves right-hander Julio Teheran (9-8, 4.03) on Thursday.

While the National League East champion Braves (89-69) would like to see Teheran pitch well as they try to figure out whether he will serve as their fourth starter in the NL Division Series, their more immediate concern is Swanson, a slick-fielding shortstop who left Tuesday's 7-3 victory in the second inning with what was diagnosed Wednesday as a torn ligament in his left wrist.

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Swanson, who missed time earlier this season with inflammation in the same wrist, flew to Atlanta on Wednesday and is expected to rehab there over the next several days.

"It sounded like a situation that we'll know a little better where he's at in a couple days, once they treat him up good and see," Braves manager Brian Snitker said following Wednesday's game. "I know Dansby's going to try like hell to get back."

Snitker said the best-case scenario would have Swanson ready to swing the bat in games early next week. The NLDS is scheduled to start Oct. 4.

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"Maybe towards the first of next week or whatever -- we treat him, he's good maybe fire him down to Instructional League and let him take live at-bats," Snitker said. "I think it's just going to be a day-to-day thing and we'll know more and talk to the doctor in a couple days."

There will be no baseball for the Mets (74-84) after Sunday's season finale against the Miami Marlins, but the recent surges for Vargas and Conforto have given New York reason for optimism heading into next season.

Conforto doubled and scored the Mets' first run in the sixth inning Wednesday before hitting his career-high 28th homer, a long solo shot, in the ninth. The 25-year-old outfielder, who barely worked out last winter while he was recovering from a left shoulder injury and opened this season on the disabled list, is hitting .282 with 17 homers and 52 RBIs since the All-Star break. He hit .216 with 11 homers and 30 RBIs prior to the All-Star Break.

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Vargas, whose spring training was shortened when he suffered a broken right hand after being hit by a comebacker March 16, is 4-1 with a 3.11 ERA in his last seven starts. He was 2-8 with an 8.75 ERA in his first 12 outings.

"Vargas rebounded very nicely, Conforto's rebounded very well and they're performing better now," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said Wednesday afternoon. "It's a tough thing to not have a spring training and to kind of do that stuff during the season, but it's probably made both of them mentally stronger because they had to do it."

Vargas didn't factor into the decision in his most recent start Friday, when he gave up two runs over 5 2/3 innings in the Mets' 5-4, 12-inning win over the Washington Nationals.

Teheran also didn't factor into the decision Friday, when he allowed four runs over 6 1/3 innings as the Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-5.

Vargas is 1-2 with a 5.60 ERA in five career games (four starts) against the Braves. That includes his 1-2 record and 6.14 ERA in three starts against Atlanta this year.

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Teheran is 9-6 with a 2.42 ERA in 24 career games (23 starts) against the Mets, a team he has faced more than any other team. He tossed his lone big league one-hitter at Citi Field on June 19, 2016, when Conforto's third-inning single accounted for New York's lone baserunner in Atlanta's 6-0 win.

This season Teheran is 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA in four starts against the Mets.

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