The Atlanta Braves (0-0) and New York Mets (0-0) will open up their 2012 MLB schedules on Thursday afternoon inside Citi Field.

Atlanta Braves at New York Mets 

New York Mets SP Johan Santana makes his first appearance on the mound since the 2010 season on Thursday afternoon

Atlanta will begin the healing process after squandering an 8.5-game in the National League Wild Card race by going 9-18 over its last 27 games.  “Last year is last year,” commented Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.  “We’re going to have to answer questions everywhere we go.”  The Braves will be without the services of veteran third baseman Chipper Jones, who underwent successful arthroscopic surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee.  Atlanta is 1-5 in its last six games to open a series.

Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson finished the 2011 season with a solid 11-7 record and 3.60 ERA, as opponents hit just .219 against him.  The right-hander registered a winning 6-3 mark and 4.06 ERA in 11 road starts, surrendering 11 home runs in 64 1/3 innings.  Hanson will be making his eighth career start versus the Mets, going 3-3 with a 3.69 ERA, including a 1-2 mark and 5.85 ERA in four starts at Citi Field.

New York has a great chance in starting the 2012 season with a victory, as the franchise leads all MLB teams with a .640 winning percentage on Opening Day (32-18).  The Mets will not have shortstop Jose Reyes in the leadoff position anymore, as he’s now playing the same position for the Miami Marlins.  Third baseman David Wright will feel a lot of pressure to perform, but it’s likely he’ll need a few games in the regular season to get up to speed, missing the first three weeks of spring with an abdominal strain.  New York is 3-9 in its last 12 home games.

Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana will be making his first start since the 2010 season,  as he missed all of last year due to surgery to his throwing shoulder.  The left-hander is no stranger to taking the mound on Opening Day, posting a 4-1 record in five opportunities.  Santana will be making his 13th career start versus the Braves, going 3-6 with a 2.28 ERA, as he’s surrendered just five home runs in 79 innings.  He has tallied a remarkable 48-28 record and 2.80 ERA in 121 daytime outings (97 starts).

Bettors will likely back the Braves due to their 8-3 record in Hanson’s last 11 starts, while the Mets are 2-7 at home versus right-handed starters.

Recommendation: Atlanta Braves -105

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