The New York Mets (79-73) will conclude their final road trip of 2019 with a three-game set against the Cincinnati Reds (72-81). Earlier this year, the Mets split four games with the Reds at Citi Field. In that series, the team lost two games in the ninth when Edwin Diaz surrendered solo home runs in each. The team came away with wins on a Pete Alonso walk-off sac fly and a 1-0 victory that featured a complete game shutout from Noah Syndergaard, who also drove in the only run with a solo homer. The series became known for the drama featuring Jesse Winker, who will miss the Mets this time around.
The Mets took on the Colorado Rockies out in Coors Field and took two of three. On Monday, they built a 4-1 lead on the strength of a Brandon Nimmo leadoff home run and a Jeff McNeil two-run shot. Steven Matz had been pitching relatively well heading into the game and stymied the Rockies through the first three frames, but he imploded in the fourth and surrendered six runs. The big blow was a three-run home run from Trevor Story, but the back-breaking hit was a two-run single by pitcher Antonio Senzatela, who entered the game mired in an 0-for-44 slump dating back to that date last year.
New York bounced back on Tuesday thanks to a strong performance from Marcus Stroman. The right-hander tossed seven scoreless frames with seven strikeouts against a difficult lineup in a hitter-friendly park. The Mets’ bats were quiet until the sixth, when home runs from Amed Rosario, Nimmo, and Alonso broke the game open. The offense added insurance runs in the eighth and ninth to give the bullpen some added cushion, and Justin Wilson and Luis Avilan teamed up to finish the final two innings.
On Wednesday, the Mets appeared to be heading for another demoralizing loss. Syndergaard was average as he surrendered two home runs to Sam Hilliard and gave up four runs in 5.2 innings on the afternoon. Meanwhile, the offense continued to chip away but couldn’t quite draw even for much of the game. New York originally led thanks to a McNeil home run, and they drew to within one when Alonso hit his 49th homer of the season. They entered the ninth down 4-3 but erupted for four in the ninth to take a lead. The inning featured an Alonso bases loaded walk for the go-ahead run—the second time Alonso has contributed the go-ahead run on a bases loaded walk this month—and Seth Lugo helping his cause with a single up the middle. The aforementioned Lugo pitched the eighth and ninth to pick up the win.
In the Wednesday win, the Mets hit their 225th home run as a team, setting a new franchise record. The previous mark was set by the 2017 team with 224 homers. It was fitting that the record-setting blast came from Alonso, who continues to make his mark in 2019 with home runs as he chases Aaron Judge’s single-season rookie record. With ten games to play, Alonso needs three home runs to tie Judge and four to surpass him. His latest home run tied him with Mark McGwire, who hit 49 in his rookie season. He already set the National League rookie mark and the single-season franchise record for the Mets as he looks to become the first player in team history to hit 50 dingers in a season. In 17 September games, he is slashing .292/.370/.646 with seven home runs and a 162 wRC+.
Late on Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers both fell in their respective games. Those results cut the Mets’ Wild Card deficit to three games with ten remaining on the schedule. It’s still unlikely, but this team continues to fight and claw their way back into the race. This weekend, the Cubs will continue their series with the St. Louis Cardinals while the Brewers take on the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates at home before finishing their season on the road. The Mets have seven games coming up against beatable opponents before finishing the year against the Atlanta Braves, who will very likely have nothing to play for and nothing to prove heading into the postseason.
The Reds enter this series after helping the Mets’ Wild Card cause and taking two of three from the Cubs. After dropping the opener, they took Tuesday’s contest and won on Wednesday in the tenth inning. Despite the losing record, the Reds actually have a plus-seven run differential on the season. Even at nine games under .500, they are not a team to be taken lightly. Cincinnati’s rotation boasts a respectable 4.02 ERA and 4.14 FIP and features some tough names, three of whom the Mets will face this weekend.
Offensively, the team is less imposing. They enter this game with an 87 wRC+ as a team to go along with a .245/.315/.424 slash line. Their 675 runs scored puts them in the bottom third of the league. Despite the offensively struggles, the Reds have Eugenio Suarez, who is right behind Alonso for most home runs in baseball. The third baseman has 48 long balls in 2019, which is a new career high. The mark puts him one behind Alonso and three ahead of Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jorge Soler of the Kansas City Royals. On the year, Suarez is hitting .272/.354/.581 with a 133 wRC+ in 150 games.
The last two times the Mets have traveled to Great American Ball Park in September, they swept the Reds (2015 and 2016).
Friday, September 20: Jacob deGrom vs. Luis Castillo, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
deGrom (2019): 190.0 IP, 239 K, 43 BB, 19 HR, 2.61 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 1.01 WHIP
deGrom was simply magnificent in his last start and once again had to settle for a no-decision. He kept the Dodgers off-balance all night and surrendered just three hits without walking a batter. He struck out eight total and continues to lead the National League with 239 punch outs in 2019. He lowered his WHIP to a now league-leading 1.005. It was also the sixth straight start that he’s gone seven innings, and the 11th time he’s done so over his last 13 outings. One year after winning the National League Cy Young Award, he’s poised to be a finalist once again and stands a very good chance of taking home the honor for a second consecutive year. He enters Friday’s start with the best bWAR (6.9), the second-best FIP (2.79), and the third-best ERA (2.61) among NL starters. He will be opposed by another NL Cy Young hopeful for the third time in four starts.
Castillo (2019): 178.2 IP, 211 K, 72 BB, 20 HR, 3.22 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 1.14 WHIP
Among pitchers vying for the NL Cy Young award, perhaps none are talked about as little as Cincinnati’s Castillo. The 26-year-old is having a breakout season with the Reds and was named to his first All Star team two seasons after finishing eighth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He carried a sub-two ERA into mid-May and has struck out at least eight batters in 14 of his 30 starts. In his last appearance, he picked up his 15th win of the season by going five innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks and allowing two earned runs on four hits. He only struck out three and he walked three, but his offense did enough to get him the victory. Earlier this year against the Mets, he went 6.2 innings and was charged with two earned runs on five hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.
Saturday, September 21: Zack Wheeler vs. Anthony DeSclafani, 4:10 p.m. on WPIX
Wheeler (2019): 180.1 IP, 179 K, 49 BB, 20 HR, 4.09 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 1.29 WHIP
Wheeler is picking it up just as his time with the Mets could be winding down. Over his last four starts, he’s pitched to a 1.44 ERA and a 2.22 FIP with 23 strikeouts in 25 innings. He’s given up a lot of hits over those four outings (27) but he’s limited the damage to one earned run each time. In his last outing, he went seven and allowed one earned run on six hits with no walks and nine strikeouts against a very tough Dodgers’ team. It was the first time he made it through a start without walking a batter since an August 1 start against the Chicago White Sox. After Saturday, he could be preparing to say his goodbyes to the team in a start at Citi Field against the Miami Marlins on September 26, but there is still the chance the team could look into retaining him in the offseason. If he keeps pitching as well as he has as of late, the price could be too rich for the Mets to handle.
DeSclafani (2019): 155.2 IP, 155 K, 27 BB, 28 HR, 3.93 ERA, 4.53 FIP, 1.20 WHIP
DeSclafani did everything he could to help his team win on September 14 but still picked up his ninth loss of the season in a 1-0 defeat to the Diamondbacks. In one of his best starts of the year, the New Jersey native went seven innings and gave up just one earned run on one hit with no walks and five strikeouts. After a couple of rough starts in August, he’s picked it up again and has pitched well over his last six outings for the Reds. In those six outings, he has a 2.13 ERA and a 3.85 FIP with 32 strikeouts in 38 innings.
Sunday, September 22: Steven Matz vs. Trevor Bauer, 1:10 p.m. on WPIX
Matz (2019): 149.1 IP, 143 K, 47 BB, 25 HR, 4.16 ERA, 4.54 FIP, 1.33 WHIP
Oh, Steven. What are the Mets going to do with you? After a truly impressive run that gave the team ideas of what he could be in 2020, he promptly went out and got shelled in an outing on the road against the Rockies. He’s been bad for most of the season on the road, but his recent performances perhaps made it seem as if he left those troubles in the past. In his last start, he was splendid over three innings but fell apart in the fourth and gave up six runs, including a two-run hit to the light-hitting pitcher. In total, he was charged with seven earned runs on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks in four innings. It was the sixth time this year that he had allowed at least two home runs in a start. He now owns an unsightly 6.62 ERA in 15 road starts, as opposed to a 1.94 ERA at Citi Field in 15 appearances. On the bright side, he made his 30th start for the second consecutive season, which is a big milestone as he looks to put his injury troubles behind him.
Bauer (2019): 206.0 IP, 245 K, 82 BB, 32 HR, 4.41 ERA, 4.30 FIP, 1.26 WHIP
After making the All Star team in 2018 and finishing sixth in the American League Cy Young race, it was been a disappointing season for the volatile and controversial Bauer. After putting up decent numbers in 24 starts with the Cleveland Indians, whom he had spent six of his first seven seasons, he was traded around the deadline to the Reds in a deal that sent Yasiel Puig over to Cleveland. His numbers look significantly worse since changing teams, as he owns a 6.39 ERA and a 4.76 FIP in nine starts in the National League. He’s been better as of late and is coming off his most dominant start his last time out. In that outing against the Diamondbacks, he went eight innings and allowed one earned run on four hits with nine strikeouts. It was good enough to get him his second win with his new squad.
Prediction: The Mets drop two of three to the Reds.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Reds?
This poll is closed
The Mets pull off a big-time September sweep!
The Mets draw a bit closer in the race by taking two of three.
The Mets see their chances shrink after losing two games.
The Mets are left seeing red after getting swept by the Reds.