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The Mets Are on Fire. The Braves Are Watching From a Safe Distance.



The Dodgers have steadily brought up high-impact prospects to their roster, with Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler and Alex Verdugo all emerging in the last five years. The Braves have had similar success with the young outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (33 homers, 28 steals through Monday), second baseman Ozzie Albies, the injured shortstop Dansby Swanson and starter Mike Soroka.

“I saw it over there, and I see it here: These kids come into the clubhouse knowing they belong,” Culberson said. “Everybody treats them normal, and they don’t try to change who they are. These guys are comfortable, and they’re elite for a reason.”

The Braves have essentially matched the Dodgers’ offense this season; with both teams having played 120 games through Monday, the Braves had more total bases and just one fewer run scored. The difference has been pitching: The Dodgers’ rotation had a 2.90 E.R.A., by far the best in the majors, while the Braves ranked 15th at 4.47.

“You look how we came into the year, and with three-fifths of our starting rotation, things happened,” Anthopoulos said. “We’ve gotten consistency from these five, and we like the five that we have.”

Those five are Max Fried, Dallas Keuchel and Julio Teheran — the scheduled starters in this series — plus Soroka and Mike Foltynewicz, an All-Star in 2018 who was sent to the minors earlier this season. Sean Newcomb was sent to the bullpen, and Kevin Gausman was claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds.

Anthopoulos added relievers Shane Greene, Mark Melancon and Chris Martin at the trading deadline, but has mostly resisted dealing from the Braves’ stockpile of pitching prospects. He has also been frugal in free agency, signing Josh Donaldson, Brian McCann and Keuchel to one-year deals and resisting most long-term commitments. Only four players — first baseman Freddie Freeman, Albies and outfielders Acuna and Ender Inciarte — are signed past 2020.

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