The Mets (54-47) will look to finish off their 11-game homestand on a high note as they host the Cincinnati Reds (54-49) for three games. The two teams squared off in Ohio after the All Star break, with the Mets taking two out of three, including one in a wild 15-11 fashion. The Mets, who recently had a nine-game winning streak against the Reds at Citi Field, have alternated wins with their opponent at home since that streak was snapped on September 10, 2017.
The Mets just completed a grueling five-game set against the Atlanta Braves, winning two out of the five in that series. Things kicked off with a Monday doubleheader at Citi Field, with each team coming away with a victory. In the opener, the Mets’ bats were held in check by a trio of Atlanta lefties in the seven-inning affair, while Atlanta’s two runs against Marcus Stroman were more than enough. In the nightcap, New York used six different relievers to toss seven scoreless innings, while a Jeff McNeil run-scoring double drove in Brandon Nimmo in the fifth inning for the lone run of the contest.
The Mets decided they didn’t need a win on Tuesday, or at least that’s the message they communicated when they re-signed Jerad Eickhoff to start the contest after they had twice designated the right-hander for assignment. The result was a 12-5 drubbing, as Eickhoff was tagged for ten earned runs over 3.1 innings. The Mets battled back with two-run homers from McNeil and from Brandon Drury, but they would not get any closer.
On Wednesday, New York earned a thrilling 2-1 win behind another strong outing from Tylor Megill. The Mets jumped out in front in the third, as McNeil singled home Megill for the game’s first run. The right-hander was cruising until the sixth, but his final pitch on the evening was deposited over the center field wall by Austin Riley, which represented his third homer against the Mets in two games. Things remained tied until the seventh, when Drury hit a pinch hit homer off Max Fried to put the Mets back in front. In the ninth, Michael Conforto threw out a runner at home to preserve the lead and seal the Braves’ fate.
The Mets dropped the finale 6-3. After cruising through three, Taijuan Walker hit a wall in the fourth, surrendering homers to Riley—his fourth in three games—and Abraham Almonte. Atlanta added two more in the fifth, but Pete Alonso got those runs back with a monstrous upper deck two-run shot. Dansby Swanson homered off of Jeurys Familia to give the Braves some added cushion, and the Mets remained quiet from there. In the game, Drury recorded a hit in his eighth straight at-bat before that streak was snapped with a double play, while McNeil extended his hitting streak to 15 games.
Today is trade deadline day and, as of the publication of this series preview, the Mets have not yet made a move. New York currently holds a 3.5 game lead over the second-place Philadelphia Phillies, and a four-game edge over the team they just finished playing over the past four days. The Mets have been linked to several players, including Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs and José Berríos of the Minnesota Twins, both of whom remain on the board with five hours to go. The Mets have held on to first place in the East since May 9, but that is in no way an excuse to stand pat, because the other contenders in the National League, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Diego Padres, and the Milwaukee Brewers, have significantly improved their respective rosters, which will only make things harder for the Mets come October, should they hold off their division rivals.
The Reds are a team that view themselves as contenders, and they have gone out and improved their beleaguered bullpen ahead of the deadline. The newest additions to their club include former Met lefty Justin Wilson and Luis Cessa, both of whom were acquired from the New York Yankees, and Mychal Givens, whom they picked up from the Colorado Rockies. Since losing two out of three to the Mets, Cincinnati went on to take two of three from the St. Louis Cardinals and three of four at Wrigley Field against the tanking Cubs. That stretch has helped the Reds climb into second place in the National League Central, although they still find themselves seven games back of the Brewers, and five behind the Padres for the second Wild Card spot in the NL.
Mets’ pitchers will have the unenviable task of trying to stop Joey Votto, who has been on the tear to end all tears as of late. In the last seven games, the first baseman and former NL MVP is slashing .444/.515/1.370 with a 352 wRC+ and a 1.1 fWAR. He has eight homers in his last six games, becoming the first Red to ever hit homers in six consecutive games. The Mets may not have much hope of stopping him, but they will at least need to try and contain him if they hope to win this series.
Friday, July 30: Sonny Gray vs. Carlos Carrasco, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Gray (2021): 70.0 IP, 89 K, 28 BB, 11 HR, 4.50 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 1.41 WHIP, 1.6 bWAR
Gray had a seven-start stretch from May 1 through June 8 in which he posted a 2.48 ERA, a 3.79 FIP, and a 1.13 WHIP in 36.1 innings. Then he landed on the injured list with a groin injury and, after two solid starts following his return, hit the IL again with a rib cage injury. Since coming back, he has endured two of his worst starts of the season. In his return, he went 4.2 innings and allowed five earned runs on six hits with six strikeouts and a season-high four walks against the Brewers. Then, he gave up a season-high eight earned runs on eight hits while serving up a season-worst three homers over 3.1 innings against the Cardinals in his most recent start. As a result, his ERA has skyrocketed from 3.19 to 4.50.
Carlos Carrasco: 2021 debut
It’s been a long time coming, but Carlos “Cookie” Carrasco will finally make his Mets debut. New York acquired the right-hander as part of the Francisco Lindor from Cleveland, where he pitched the first 11 years of his major league career to the tune of a 3.77 ERA, a 3.42 FIP, a 1.20 WHIP, and a 25.6 career bWAR in 1,242.1 innings. Last year, he made 11 starts and finished the season with a 2.91 ERA, a 3.59 FIP, a 1.21 WHIP, and 82 strikeouts in 68.0 innings. The right-hander suffered a torn hamstring in spring training, which resulted in him missing the first four months of the 2021 season, but his return will be a big boost to a rotation that has been lacking in stability all year. He will need to stretch out, so it’s unlikely he goes beyond four innings in this start.
Saturday, July 31: Wade Miley vs. Rich Hill, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Miley (2021): 107.0 IP, 86 K, 33 BB, 8 HR, 2.86 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 1.24 WHIP, 4.9 bWAR
In his most recent start, Miley only lasted 4.1 innings—his shortest start since May 19—and allowed three earned runs on seven hits. He walked a season-high five in that start while striking out only two. It was a small blip in what has otherwise been a terrific year for the ten-year veteran, as he has set a career best for bWAR with two months left to go. The left-hander confounded the Mets back on July 20, limiting them to two runs (one earned) on seven hits over 6.1 innings. In that outing, he matched a season high with eight strikeouts.
Hill (2021): 100.1 IP, 92 K, 38 BB, 14 HR, 3.95 ERA, 4.54 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 0.7 bWAR
In his debut for the Mets, Hill pitched five scoreless innings before loading the bases with nobody out in the sixth. At that point, he departed, and Seth Lugo allowed all three inherited runners to score, which resulted in Hill being charged with three earned runs on five hits with two walks and a strikeout over five-plus innings against the Toronto Blue Jays. It was a perfect introduction to Hill for Mets fans, as five innings of two or three runs is right around what will likely be the norm for the veteran left-hander.
Sunday, August 1: Vladimir Gutierrez vs. Marcus Stroman, 1:10 p.m. on SNY
Gutierrez (2021): 60.2 IP, 42 K, 28 BB, 12 HR, 4.75 ERA, 5.87 FIP, 1.43 WHIP, 1.0 bWAR
Gutierrez is making the 12th start of his major league career on Sunday against the Mets. The right-hander debuted on May 28 by hurling five innings of one-run ball in a loss to the Cubs. He’s been mostly solid since then, but three bad starts have really warped his ERA overall. In July, he had three quality starts of six-plus innings with two earned runs or fewer, but his start against the Mets in which he gave up six earned runs over four was the bad one for the month. In his last outing, he earned his fifth career victory, as he allowed two earned runs in 6.1 innings against the Cubs.
Stroman (2021): 116.1 IP, 97 K, 27 BB, 10 HR, 2.63 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 1.11 WHIP, 2.0 bWAR
Stroman lasted five innings in his last start and allowed two runs, but he gave up a lot of hard contact to Atlanta. He allowed eight hits in the five frames, seven of which came in the final three innings, and he worked in and out of trouble all afternoon. Despite the constant traffic on the base paths, he only needed 65 pitches, throwing 49 of them (75.4%) for strikes and, had the club not needed offense, he would have likely gone deeper into this contest. With Walker’s recent struggles, Carrasco needing to ramp up, Hill mostly being a five and dive pitcher, and Megill still being younger, Stroman has been the best at giving his club length, and they will need him to continue pitching deep into games.
Prediction: The Mets take two out of three from the Reds!
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Reds?
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The Mets pound the Reds in a three-game sweep!
The Mets make it a winning homestand by taking two of three.
The Mets drop two of three before heading out on the road.
The Mets and their fans are seeing red in a three-game sweep.