The New York Mets look to put their abysmal home stand behind them as they head back out on the road for six games with the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Mets have 10 wins in 15 games away from Citi Field this year after finishing with a 4-5 record on their last trip through Atlanta, St. Louis, and San Diego. Great American Ballpark has been a welcome site for the Mets, as they have won 31 out of 48 games they’ve played at the Cincinnati ballpark (including nine of their last 11).
The Mets’ offense has played a major role in their recent struggles, as they were shut out three times during the six-game home stand and scored a total of 11 runs against the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies. Outside of Asdrubal Cabrera, who is tied for second in the National League in fWAR (1.7) and batting average (.333) and sports an impressive 165 wRC+, Mets hitters have been unable to produce consistently.
The Mets may have to figure things out without Yoenis Cespedes, who exited Sunday afternoon’s game after the first inning with a sore right quadriceps. Prior to the injury, Cespedes was 6 for 19 with 3 runs scored on the home stand. While Cespedes did not rule out playing on Monday, he did not commit one way or the other.
One Met who will not be playing in Cincinnati is Jacob deGrom, who was placed on the disabled list after suffering a hyperextended elbow during at at-bat on Tuesday night. While Mickey Callaway stressed that deGrom did not feel any pain in the days after the injury, the team is exercising caution with their ace (deGrom is eligible to return over the weekend). P.J. Conlon has joined the Mets to take deGrom’s place and will look to get the Mets back on the winning track. Since their 11-1 start, the Mets have put together a 6-14 record, which is tied for worst in the National League.
The other team would be the Cincinnati Reds, who are 8-26 on the season and in last place in the National League Central. The Reds fired manager Bryan Price after losing 15 of their first 18 games, though things have not improved much since the firing. The Reds are finishing up a nine-game home stand in which they were swept by the Milwaukee Brewers and lost two out of three games to the Miami Marlins.
The Reds offense is led by five-time All-Star first baseman Joey Votto, who is have another stellar season with a .408 on-base percentage, a 141 wRC+, and 1.1 fWAR. On the negative side, left fielder Adam Duvall, who made the All-Star team in 2016, is having a terrible year. Duvall ranks dead-last among qualified National League left fielders in batting average (.160), on-base percentage (.240), and OPS (.606) has an ugly -0.4 fWAR and 58 wRC+.
On the pitching side, the Reds have been horrible. They rank dead-last in the National League in team ERA (5.50), FIP (5.10), and fWAR (-0.5) and lead the league in home runs allowed (52). Cincinnati’s pitching could be just what the Mets offense has been looking for to get back on track.
Monday, May 7: P.J. Conlon vs. Homer Bailey, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
P.J. Conlon (2018, AAA): 24.0 IP, 21 K, 7 BB, 1 HR, 6.75 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 1.58 WHIP
P.J. Conlon will make his major league debut on Monday after Jacob deGrom landed on the disabled list. The 24-year-old is ranked as the No. 24 prospect in the Mets farm system and has worked his way up quickly since being drafted in the 13th round in 2015. The lefty will become the first Irish-born player in major league baseball since 1945.
Bailey (2018): 39.1 IP, 22 K, 12 BB, 8 HR, 4.81 ERA, 5.67 FIP, 1.25 WHIP
The Reds’ ace has had a rough year and is still searching for his first win. In his last two starts, he’s gone 10 innings while giving up a total of nine earned runs. Bailey has had trouble with the longball all year, as he has allowed eight in just seven starts. This could bode well for Adrian Gonzalez, who is 11-for-25 with six home runs in his career against Bailey.
Tuesday, May 8, Jason Vargas vs. Luis Castillo, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Jason Vargas (2018): 8.1 IP, 8 K, 5 BB, 5 HR, 16.20 ERA, 10.84 FIP, 3.00 WHIP
It’s hard to imagine a worse start to the season than the one Jason Vargas has had. After missing most of April with a non-displaced fracture in his non-pitching hand, he’s gotten rocked in both of his starts. On Thursday afternoon against Atlanta, he went four-and-two-thirds innings and allowed six earned runs on 11 hits, which actually actually helped him lower his earned run average by almost six runs. Vargas will need to figure out his troubles quickly, as the Mets rotation will need him to provide innings and serve as a dependable number three behind deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
Luis Castillo (2018): 34.2 IP, 31 K, 14 BB, 7 HR, 7.01 ERA, 5.20 FIP, 1.67 WHIP
No, former Mets second baseman Luis Castillo isn’t attempting a comeback as a pitcher. The right-handed Castillo, who was acquired by Cincinnati in 2017 as part of the Dan Straily trade with the Marlins, is in his first full major league season after making his debut last June. While his line does not look impressive, he is coming off his best start of the season, where he allowed two earned runs while striking out seven in six innings of work in the loss to the Brewers.
Wednesday, May 9, Zack Wheeler vs. Sal Romano, 12:35 p.m. on SNY
Zack Wheeler (2018): 28.0 IP, 24 K, 11 BB, 4 HR, 5.79 ERA, 4.58 FIP, 1.50 WHIP
Zack Wheeler is coming off his worst start of the season, where he allowed a career-high eight earned runs in six-plus innings of work. Most of those came in the first inning, where Rockies batters hit Zack hard and tallied five runs to put the Mets in an early hole. Wheeler has settled into his regular inconsistent pattern, as he’s had one terrific starts, two average starts, and one dreadful start so far. Cincinnati could be a welcome sight for Wheeler, since he has a 1.50 lifetime ERA at Great American Ballpark.
Sal Romano (2018): 36.1 IP, 19 K, 16 BB, 7 HR, 4.21 ERA, 6.02 FIP, 1.38 WHIP
Sal Romano has found his groove after struggling in his first three starts of 2018. Over his last four outings, he’s pitched 21 innings while allowing six earned runs on 17 hits. He has struggled with his command at times the season and has allowed 16 walks against just 19 strikeouts so far. Prior to making his debut early in the 2017 season, he was the No. 15 prospect in the Reds’ farm system.
Prediction: The Mets can’t possibly lose the series to the Reds, right? RIGHT? Mets take two out of three.
How will the Mets fare against the Brewers in this series?
This poll is closed
Last place Reds? METS WILL SWEEP!
Two out of three certainly isn’t bad.
The Mets end the losing streak, but lose two out of three.
Mets are left seeing red in Cincinnati after getting swept.