The 2016 season didn't get off to a fast start for the Mets, but they've found their footing thanks to a recent home run binge and the incredible pitching of Noah Syndergaard. Slowly, but surely, this club is starting to resemble the 2015 version that captured New York City's imagination and won the National League pennant. The pitching has been great, the second baseman is hitting the ball out of the yard, and Yoenis Cespedes has appeared out of nowhere to lead the team to victory.
The only problem is that Matt Harvey is not the star of the show anymore. Arguably the team's most popular player, Harvey has gotten off to a slow start this season due to an inability to put away opposing batters (5.64 strikeouts per nine) and work deep into games (fewer than six innings per start). Most Mets fans say they aren't worried yet, but sooner or later we've got to see some improvement from the big right-hander, and tonight versus the Reds is a great opportunity.
Left-handed slugger Jay Bruce is still on paternity leave and Brandon Phillips could miss a second straight game after taking a Sydnergaard fastball to the hand on Monday night. Zack Cozart and Eugenio Suarez have been swinging hot bats this year, but other than that, there's not much going on around Joey Votto in the Cincinnati lineup.
During his last outing, Harvey started to look like his old self again with five strikeouts and one walk in five innings in Atlanta. On the other hand, he needed 101 pitches to get through five innings against an anemic Braves offense and was a spectacular Cespedes throw away from surrendering a third run.
With the way the rest of the rotation, including Bartolo Colon, has been pitching, the Mets don't need Harvey to be a stud in order to contend for great things in 2016. However, we all know being a baseball fan is more fun when a hurler as talented as Harvey is playing at the top of his game. If he doesn't pitch with power and precision tonight against the short-handed Reds, it might be time to start wondering what's going on with this guy. Hopefully, Harvey will take advantage of the opportunity.
Lagares back in the lineup
Despite last night's heroics, Cespedes is out of the starting lineup again today do to his injured thigh. That means another start for Juan Lagares, who has shown a solid contact rate so far with just four strikeouts in 29 plate appearances. That trend should continue against the right-handed Jon Moscot, who starts tonight for Cincinnati with just four strikeouts in 10.2 innings in 2016.
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