The New York Mets (14-13) will take on the cellar-dwelling Cincinnati Reds (11-16) for four games at Citi Field before heading out on their next road trip. Dating back to the 2014 season, the Mets have won 24 of their last 32 games against the Reds, including 13 out of 16 at Citi Field.
The Mets are coming off a series loss to the Milwaukee Brewers that dropped them to .500 on the homestand and briefly dropped them to .500 for the first time in 2019. The team’s two best starters, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, each turned in poor performances once again, resulting in a 10-2 loss on Friday in a game that featured a nearly three-hour rain delay, and an 8-6 defeat on Saturday.
The Mets bounced back behind Steven Matz’s strong performance on Sunday and salvaged the series finale by a 5-2 score. The club was outhit 14-12 and went just 2-for-12 with runners in scoring positing, but J.D. Davis contributed a timely, run-scoring hit off the bench in the seventh inning to put the club ahead for good. Edwin Diaz notched his eighth save in as many chances to secure the victory ahead of the team’s upcoming series.
After going hitless in his last 10 at-bats and recording just three hits over his last five games, Pete Alonso got back on track over the weekend. He brought the Mets to within one run on Saturday with a majestic three-run shot against Brewers left-hander Alex Claudio in the seventh inning. The home run was one of three hits Alonso picked up on the evening. In his first at-bat on Sunday, he registered his first career triple and came around to score later in the inning. Overall, Alonso went 4-for-13 with three runs batted in and two runs scored against Milwaukee.
After losing his spot at the top of the batting order and dropping to sixth in the lineup, Brandon Nimmo looked better during the series. He contributed two hits in four at-bats on Friday, three hits on Saturday, and a hit, a walk, and two runs scored in the Sunday victory. Nimmo is now slashing .250/.368/.413 with a 116 wRC+ in 25 games this season despite getting off to a slow start. Jeff McNeil has seemingly taken over as the team’s leadoff hitter and with good reason. McNeil has posted a .355/.434/.484 slash line with a 153 wRC+ in 26 games for the Mets in 2019. Over the weekend, he had two more multi-hit games, which gives him 12 on the season. He currently ranks fourth in that department behind Cody Bellinger, Javier Baez, and Christian Yelich.
The Mets offense continues to be their greatest strength, and it might be getting stronger soon. Jed Lowrie, whom the team signed to a two-year contract over the offseason, began his rehab assignment yesterday with the St. Lucie Mets and went hitless in four at-bats. It’s unclear how long it will take for Lowrie to work his way back, but his offense can only help a team that has already excelled at the plate this April. The team will also closely monitor Robinson Cano’s health after he was hit on the hand while swinging again yesterday and was forced to exit the game without completing his first at-bat. While X-Rays returned negative, the team is still sending Cano in for an MRI today. If the team’s second baseman is forced to miss any time, McNeil could fill in at his position, with Todd Frazier at third base until Lowrie is healthy enough to play.
Unlike the Mets, the Reds have struggled at the plate so far this season. They’ve posted a 69 wRC+ as a team, which puts them in a tie with the Miami Marlins for second-worst among National League clubs and ranks them ahead of just the San Francisco Giants. They have scored the fourth-fewest runs (101) among National League teams and have posted the third-worst OPS (.658). Cincinnati is coming off a series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in which they took the opener with a 12-1 offensive outburst before going quietly 6-3 on Saturday and 5-2 on Sunday.
The Reds were hoping the acquisition of Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig over the offseason would help their offense, but that has not been the case so far. Puig has gotten off to a dreadful start with his new team, as he is hitting .198/.219/.363 with a 44 wRC+ and a -0.4 fWAR in 25 games. Matt Kemp isn’t doing much better, as he has posted a .200/.210/.283 slash line with a 22 wRC+ and a team-worst -0.7 fWAR in 20 games. Kemp recently landed on the Injured List with a broken rib after crashing into the outfield wall while trying to make a catch. The team’s offensive leader so far this season has been third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who is slashing .242/.343/.495 with a 116 wRC+ and a 0.6 fWAR, while offseason acquisition Derek Dietrich is hitting .208/.306/.547 with a 115 wRC+ and a 0.4 fWAR in 26 games.
Monday, April 29: Tanner Roark vs. Zack Wheeler, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Roark (2019): 25.0 IP, 24 K, 11 BB, 2 HR, 3.24 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 1.60 WHIP
Roark struggled in his final two seasons with the Washington Nationals but has found appeared rejuvinated so far in Cincinnati. After giving up three earned runs in each of his first two starts, he’s held opponents to exactly one run in each of his last three outings. The downside is that he’s failed to make it out of the sixth inning in any of his five appearances, and he’s averaging over one-and-a-half hits and walks per nine innings. In his last start, he held the Braves to one run on six hits but came away with the hard-luck loss. Roark has a lot of experience against the Mets in his career and has pitched to a 3.07 ERA in 22 appearances (16 starts) against them as a National.
Wheeler (2019): 29.2 IP, 33 K, 14 BB, 3 HR, 4.85 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 1.35 WHIP
What will Wheeler do for an encore? He is coming off his best all-around performance as he tossed seven scoreless innings and drove in three runs in a victory against the Philadelphia Phillies. He was on top of his game on the mound and at the plate and hit his first career home run while striking out a season-high 11 batters. This was the closest Wheeler has come to looking like the pitcher who put forth an utterly dominant second half in 2018. While his overall numbers still don’t look great this year, he has rebounded nicely from two subpar outings against the Nationals and has now registered three consecutive quality starts. With deGrom and Syndergaard struggling, Wheeler’s resurgence has been a much-needed boost to the team.
Tuesday, April 30: Luis Castillo vs. Jason Vargas, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Castillo (2019): 36.2 IP, 43 K, 14 BB, 1 HR, 1.23 ERA, 2.53 FIP, 0.96 WHIP
After finish eighth in the Rookie of the Year voting but completing a subpar 2018, Castillo has been incredibly impressive so far this year. The 27-year-old hard-throwing Reds ace is leading the National League in ERA and ERA+ while earning a 2.0 bWAR through six starts. In his last outing against the Braves, he scattered a season-high eight hits but did not allow a run through six innings of work. He’s allowed one earned run or less and has struck out at least seven batters in five out of six starts and has been a big boost to the Reds’ rotation.
Vargas (2019): 15.0 IP, 10 K, 9 BB, 3 HR, 7.20 ERA, 6.40 FIP, 1.93 WHIP
Vargas allowed just one earned run while failing to complete five innings for the second straight start. After his dreadful start to the season, the Mets will take Vargas giving up just one run, even if he can’t pitch deep into games. The team will likely have somebody like Corey Oswalt or Drew Gagnon up in the bullpen to piggyback off his starts, or will have someone like Seth Lugo available to pitch multiple innings so as to save the rest of the bullpen in his short outings. With the team failing to sign Gio Gonzalez and refusing to budge on signing Dallas Keuchel, Vargas appears to be safe for the foreseeable future.
Wednesday, May 1: Anthony DeSclafani vs. Jacob deGrom, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
DeSclafani (2019): 25.1 IP, 28 K, 11 BB, 5 HR, 4.26 ERA, 5.03 FIP, 1.26 WHIP
DeSclafani is coming off his best start of 2019, as he held the Cardinals to just four hits over six scoreless innings. In his last two starts, he’s gone 12 innings while allowing just six hits and striking out 12 batters. After missing the entire 2017 season and just under half of 2018 with arm injuries and struggling through most of last year, he appears to be healthy and finally able to contribute for the Reds.
deGrom (2019): 26.0 IP, 43 K, 10 BB, 5 HR, 4.85 ERA, 3.71 FIP, 1.39 WHIP
deGrom continues to struggle despite appearing to be healthy and showing no signs of diminished velocity. His last three starts have been delayed due to rain, and there is a chance of some rough weather during his start. Hopefully his recent string of bad starts is just a blip on the radar that can be attributed to the continued rain delays and not something more serious. It’s tough watching deGrom not pitch like his 2018 self after such an historic season, and especially tough seeing his ERA approach five. He’s still a great pitcher and there’s still plenty of time for him to figure out his issues and get back to being the pitcher the team and its fans expect. It’s still far too early to worry about him, but the game of baseball can benefit from getting the dominant deGrom back.
Thursday, May 2: Tyler Mahle vs. Noah Syndergaard, 12:10 p.m. on SNY
Mahle (2019): 28.0 IP, 26 K, 7 BB, 4 HR, 4.50 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 1.39 WHIP
Mahle has lost his last three starts after getting off to a great start and allowing just one earned run across his first 11 innings pitched. After allowing four earned runs in two straight starts, he was charged with a season-high five earned runs on seven hits across five innings to the Cardinals. He also struck out a season-low two batters while walking three after not walking a batter in each of his previous two starts.
Syndergaard (2019): 34.0 IP, 39 K, 10 BB, 5 HR, 6.35 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 1.47 WHIP
Syndergaard’s continued struggles have been something of a mystery, especially since he’s healthy and his velocity has been what it always was. He’s been unable to put opposing batters away, despite getting ahead in the count, which has resulted in higher pitch counts, and he’s been missing with his location moreso than in the past. It’s been frustrating watching him pitch, knowing that the talent is still there but the execution is lacking. The offensively-challenged Reds may be just what Syndergaard needs to build up his confidence and get back on track. In his career, Thor has never lost to Cincinnati and owns a 2.67 ERA against them in five starts. He also performs slightly better in day games than in night games, as he’s held opponents to a .619 OPS and a .228 batting average while pitching to a 2.90 ERA in 32 day starts.
Prediction: The Mets will take three out of four against the Reds before heading to Milwaukee for a rematch with the Brewers.
How will the Mets fare in their four game series against the Reds
This poll is closed
The Mets continue to dominate the Reds in a four-game sweep
The Mets take the series with three wins in the four games
The Mets and Reds split the series
The Mets can only muster one win in a disappointing series loss
The Mets are seeind red as they’re swept by Cincinnati