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The Mets and Reds will decide their season series this weekend

Cincinnati is 2-1 against New York this year, but the Amazins get four games at home starting Thursday.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday marks the start of the NFL season, and that means less criticism of the Mets’ shenanigans as some national pundits will be focused on the sport with the oblong ball. The Mets are still going on, though, and this four-game set against the Reds is a good opportunity to load up on wins before the long, cold winter sets in.

Thanks to New York’s two losses in Cincinnati at the end of last month as well as the Reds’ recent sweep of Milwaukee, Bryan Price’s club is has a half-game lead on the Mets in the overall standings. That gives this series plenty of implications for the 2018 Draft, and maybe that’s why Terry Collins has moved Brandon Nimmo down in the lineup despite his sparkling .400 on-base percentage.

I’m not sure if Nimmo’s production in that category will hold up over a full season, but his performance thus far has been encouraging. Common sense dictates that a player with so little power will draw more strikes as pitchers grow accustomed to his approach, but Nimmo does have a penchant for running deep counts. Perhaps he can keep going as this two-true-outcomes guy that walks, strikes out, and hits a bunch of singles. Or maybe his power will turn up and he’ll turn into Curtis Granderson. A guy can dream.

Not every young player is a diamond in the rough, but what we’re seeing out of Scooter Gennett lately is pretty impressive. The former part-time Milwaukee second baseman has been on fire lately with multiple hits in five of his last six starts, and he has a good shot to double his career high of 14 home runs. There are still some issues with Gennett’s game — he doesn’t walk enough and has a career 42 wRC+ against lefties — but you have to give the guy credit for his zero-to-hero performance in 2017.

Speaking of heroes, the New York bullpen held Philadelphia scoreless for a meaningless five-and-one-third innings on Tuesday night after Jacob deGrom was shelled for nine runs. Jamie Callahan, Kevin McGowan, Jacob Rhame, and even Josh Smoker helped keep the Phillies out of double figures before the rain mercifully gave everyone in the pen a night off on Wednesday. We’re hoping for the Mets to invest more in their relievers this offseason, but we know how the front office loves to save money, so you can bet that it’s paying close attention to these call-ups and their mop-up outings.

Probable pitchers

Thursday, September 7: Tyler Mahle vs. Matt Harvey, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Mahle: 11.0 IP, 8 K, 4 BB, 0 HR, 2.45 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 1.18 WHIP

After having great success at Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Lousiville this year, Mahle was rewarded with a promotion to the big leagues on August 27. He debut wasn’t exactly awesome with three runs allowed in five innings against Pittsburgh, but in his second start against the same team, Mahle threw six scoreless innings with five hits and zero walks allowed. That’s the kind of outing the Reds are expecting in the future, as the youngster walked fewer than two batters per nine in the minors this season.

Harvey: 72.1 IP, 57 K, 35 BB, 17 HR, 5.97 ERA, 6.23 FIP, 1.52 WHIP

We’ll probably never know what the Mets were thinking when they announced that Harvey would start on three days of rest in his second game back from a shoulder injury. Fortunately, the club changed its mind and allowed Robert Gsellman to take the mound on Wednesday so that Harvey could start the opener against the Reds on full rest. In all likelihood, it will go better than his Houston start from Saturday, but that’s not saying much.

Friday, September 8: Amir Garrett vs. Seth Lugo, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Garrett: 58.1 IP, 49 K, 29 BB, 19 HR, 7.41 ERA, 7.28 FIP, 1.56 WHIP

Garrett took the league by storm in April with 21 strikeouts and just four runs allowed in his first three career major league outings. After that, however, opposing batters seemed to figure out something about him and pounded him with the home run ball. As a result, he spent July and August in the minor leagues, where he pitched a little bit better. The young southpaw might not be totally ready to take on the majors again, but it’s September, so why not see what he can do?

Lugo: 77.1 IP, 63 K, 22 BB, 10 HR, 5.00 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 1.44 WHIP

In two starts since coming off the disabled list, Lugo has allowed six runs in eight-and-two-thirds innings. However, he also has 11 strikeouts compared to two walks along with no home runs allowed in the two appearances despite playing against Washington and Houston. Perhaps against Cincinnati, the good peripheral stats will translate to fewer runs and a nice, long outing.

Saturday, September 9: Homer Bailey vs. Chris Flexen, 7:10 p.m. on PIX11

Bailey: 68.1 IP, 48 K, 32 BB, 10 HR, 7.24 ERA, 5.25 FIP, 1.79 WHIP

Bailey struggled through much of August, but he’s now got two straight quality starts under his belt, including one against the Mets on August 30. Since he was once seen as a franchise cornerstone and is signed through 2019, Reds fans would love to see Bailey regain some of his old form this month. If that happens, maybe I could talk myself into Harvey being productive again.

Flexen: 36.2 IP, 24 K, 26 BB, 9 HR, 7.85 ERA, 7.30 FIP, 2.07 WHIP

Flexen was blasted by the powerful Houston lineup last Sunday and ended up with his second straight seven-run outing. There’s just not much going his way right now, and the Mets have to consider shutting him down if the struggles continue. As far as progress is concerned, fans can root for Flexen to strike out more batters than he walks. He’s only done that just once in his last four trips to the mound.

Sunday, September 10: Sal Romano vs. Rafael Montero, 1:10 p.m. on SNY

Romano: 64.1 IP, 51 K, 31 BB, 8 HR, 4.62 ERA, 4.75 FIP, 1.51 WHIP

The Long Island native enters his homecoming on a roll with a 2.45 ERA in his last four starts. Back on August 29 against the Mets, Romano led his team to victory by allowing three runs in six innings with five strikeouts and two walks. It was also the only appearance in his last six in which he didn’t surrender a home run. Another quality start ought to be enough to defeat New York, but you never know with his counterpart on the rubber.

Montero: 96.2 IP, 95 K, 52 BB, 10 HR, 5.21 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 1.69 WHIP

Yes, Montero was brilliant two starts ago in Cincinnati, as he struck out eight batters and fell two outs shy of a complete game shutout. However, he also walked four in that game, and the issue persisted against Philadelphia. On Labor Day, Montero walked five batters with just three strikeouts in five-and-one-third innings, but New York came away with the win by clobbering the Philadelphia pitching staff. With the Montero roller coaster continuing to run, we could be in for another gem this weekend, but who knows?

Prediction: Banana split!


How will the Mets fare against the Reds this weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Score a lower draft pick with a sweep!
    (5 votes)
  • 8%
    Win three of four.
    (6 votes)
  • 25%
    Keith’s favorite: a banana split!
    (18 votes)
  • 24%
    Win one of four.
    (17 votes)
  • 24%
    This is so sad that I’m going to watch the Jets to cheer up.
    (17 votes)
  • 10%
    (7 votes)
70 votes total Vote Now