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Mets hoping their bats provide fireworks as they face Reds in Cincinnati

This series will feature the return of Max Scherzer.

St. Louis Cardinals v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Mets (49-30) will head to Cincinnati for a three-game set against the Reds (27-51) before returning to Citi Field. The Mets and Reds split their six games last season, which included New York taking two out of three at Great American Ball Park.

After losing four in a row to the Astros, the Mets fared better against the other Texas baseball team, taking two out of three against the Rangers over the holiday weekend. On Fireworks night, it was Eduardo Escobar who started the festivities early with a three-run homer that guided the Mets to a 4-3 win. Marcus Semien got Texas on the board with a homer in the third, but the Mets tied it with a Mark Canha run-scoring single and went ahead on the aforementioned Escobar bomb, both of which came in the fourth inning. Texas drew to within one on a Nathaniel Lowe solo shot in the fifth and an Adolis García ground out in the sixth, but the bullpen triumvirate of Seth Lugo, Adam Ottavino, and the NL’s reigning Reliever of the Month Edwin Díaz closed the door with three innings of scoreless relief after David Peterson’s quality outing.

The Mets stumbled on Saturday and failed to capitalize on a number of opportunities as they fell 7-3 in the middle game of the series. Starling Marte put the Mets in front early with a two-run homer in the first, but Texas grabbed the lead back in the second on back-to-back homers from Kole Calhoun and Jonah Heim off Trevor Williams. Escobar hit his second homer in as many games to close the gap, but the Rangers added runs in the eighth and ninth to put the game away.

The Mets secured a series victory with a 4-1 win on Sunday afternoon. Marte hit a first inning home run for the second consecutive game, but Heim homered, as he did on Saturday, to tie things up. The Mets went ahead for good in the fourth, as Pete Alonso reached second on a leadoff strikeout, and Jeff McNeil drove him home with a double. Escobar, who had been mired in a prolonged slump heading into this series, connected on his third homer of the series to give the Mets some breathing room. Carlos Carrasco turned in a nice bounce back effort, and the bullpen provided 3.1 innings of scoreless relief, with Díaz recording his second save of the series.

A lot has been made about the team’s offensive struggles since the middle of June. Since June 18, the Mets have averaged three runs per game (39 runs in 13 games) while hitting under .200 with runners in scoring position in that span. The bottom half of the order specifically has been scuffling. Since June 14, Mark Canha is slashing .133/.278/.267 with a 70 wRC+ in 14 games. Even with his 4-for-10 performance over the weekend, Escobar is hitting .163/.189/.408 with a 63 wRC+ in 14 games since June 14.

J.D. Davis has provided no offense to the DH role, posting a .182/.289/.212 slash line and a 58 wRC+ in 12 games since June 14. Luis Guillorme, who was red-hot earlier in the season and earned additional playing time as a result, is hitting .222/.222/.241 with a 33 wRC+ in 16 games during that span. Tomás Nido, who was receiving the bulk of the playing time with James McCann injured, is slashing .097/.176/.097 with a -10 wRC+ in 11 games since June 14.

The Reds are coming off a walk off win against the Braves on Sunday, with former Met Albert Almora Jr. providing the big hit in the ninth to help his old ballclub. The win is especially noteworthy since Charlie Morton carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning. The win helped Cincinnati avoid the sweep after they dropped the first two games to Atlanta.

You’ll never guess who is leading the way offensively for Cincinnati this year. Well, you won’t have time to guess since I’m just going to tell you now. It’s former Met Brandon Drury, who is tops on the team in home runs (16), OPS (.852), wRC+ (130) and fWAR (1.9) in 68 games for the Reds. Tommy Pham has also been an offensive force for Cincinnati, when he’s not busy slapping other players over past fantasy football league grievances. Pham is slashing .257/.348/.423 with 11 home runs, a 112 wRC+, and a 1.4 fWAR in a team-leading 69 games.

Monday, July 4: Taijuan Walker vs. Hunter Greene, 6:40 p.m. on SNY

Walker (2022): 72.2 IP, 52 K, 21 BB, 3 HR, 2.72 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 1.17 WHIP, 2.2 bWAR

Walker turned in a terrific outing his last time out, though it ended up being a losing effort for his club as he was tasked with facing AL Cy Young contender Justin Verlander. Walker pitched 7.1 innings of scoreless, four-hit ball in what was his best outing of the season. He struck out three and walked two in the outing and put his club in a position to win against a tough Houston team. Over his last four starts, the right-hander has posted a 1.73 ERA, a 1.74 FIP, and a 1.00 WHIP in 26.0 innings, and for the month of June, he finished with 2.63 ERA, a 2.43 FIP, and a 1.09 WHIP in 37.2 innings across six starts.

Greene (2022): 74.0 IP, 93 K, 32 BB, 20 HR, 5.72 ERA, 5.54 FIP, 1.34 WHIP, 0.4 bWAR

Greene was taken second in the 2017 MLB Draft, and made the club out of spring training this season. In short order, he has established himself as perhaps the hardest-throwing starting pitcher in the game. In his second career start, he registered 39 pitches of 100+ miles-per-hour, which is a major league record. He comes in with an average velocity of 98.7 miles-per-hour on his fastball, though his results this year are still that of a 22-year-old learning the ins and outs of the league. He has given up 20 home runs, which is the most of any pitcher in the NL and one of the biggest problems to date with his performance at the major league level. In his last outing, he allowed three earned runs on two hits over 4.0 innings against the Cubs. He’s not far removed from the best start of his young career back on June 6, when he one-hit the Diamondbacks in a seven-inning, complete game shutout.

Tuesday, July 5: Max Scherzer vs. Nick Lodolo, 6:40 p.m. on SNY

Scherzer (2022): 49.2 IP, 59 K, 11 BB, 5 HR, 2.54 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 0.95 WHIP, 1.7 bWAR

At long last, Scherzer will return to a major league mound after an oblique strain kept him out for roughly seven weeks. He last pitched for the Mets on May 18 against the Cardinals, tossing 5.2 innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits before the injury knocked him out of the contest and put him on the shelf. He worked his way back and made two rehab appearances for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies before deeming himself good to go. He should be fully stretched out and good to go, though the club will likely remain cautious with their star pitcher early on in his return.

Lodolo (2022): 14.2 IP, 19 K, 5 BB, 3 HR, 5.52 ERA, 4.62 FIP, 1.57 WHIP, 0.2 bWAR

The Mets will face another Cincinnati first round pick on Tuesday as they take on Lodolo, who was drafted seventh overall in 2019. Lodolo’s contract was selected in April, and he made his major league debut on April 13, allowing five earned runs on seven hits in 4.0 innings against the Guardians. After making two more starts, the left-hander went on the IL with a lower back strain. After a few flare ups of his back issues, he is finally ready to return and make his fourth career start on Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 6: TBD vs. Graham Ashcraft, 6:40 p.m. on SNY


The Mets have not yet named a starting pitcher for Wednesday’s series finale. David Peterson was placed on the paternity list on Sunday and, with the three-day maximum allowed for players to be away, he would line up for Wednesday’s start, which is five days after his last outing on July 1. Chris Bassitt may also start if he’s recovered from COVID-19.

Ashcraft (2022): 43.2 IP, 28 K, 9 BB, 5 HR, 4.53 ERA, 4.15 FIP, 1.24 WHIP, 1.0 bWAR

Ashcraft will be the third rookie hurler the Mets face over the course of this series. Unlike Greene and Lodolo, Ashcraft did not make the team in April, instead debuting in May. His June was extremely up-and-down, with three great starts and three dreadful starts. His last time out, he allowed a career-high seven earned runs while going just 2.1 innings against the Cubs. Prior to that, he had the best start of his major league career, going 8.0 innings and allowing two earned runs while striking out a career-high eight against the Giants.

Prediction: The Mets sweep the Reds!


How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Reds?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    The Mets sweep last-place Cincinnati!
    (80 votes)
  • 35%
    The Mets take two out of three against the Reds.
    (55 votes)
  • 3%
    The Mets take one but drop two at Great American Ball Park.
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    The Mets are left seeing red as they’re swept by the NL Central’s cellar dwellar.
    (0 votes)
  • 10%
    (16 votes)
157 votes total Vote Now