The Mets escaped Pittsburgh with a win on Sunday to ultimately avoid an embarrassing blow to the last-placed Pirates.
Overall, it was a tough weekend for the Mets both on and on the field as Francisco Lindor (Grade 2 oblique load) and Ace Pitcher Jacob deGrom (Right Forearm Tight) both landed on the IL without a schedule.
To make matters worse, the Mets bullpen blew a 6-0 lead on Saturday night that ended in a soul-wrenching loss as closer Edwin Diaz Jacob Stallings called up a Grand Slam.
Fortunately, the resilient Mets, who were 6-0 down in the first inning after Taijuan Walker’s nightmare outing yesterday, fought back with seven unanswered runs to return the favor of the Pirates with a comeback win of their own in six runs.
Now, the Mets, who have gone nuts again, will travel to Cincinnati to face the Reds in a three-game set from Monday night.
The Reds are second in NL Central at 48-45 but have only been swept away by the Milwaukee Brewers, who they now follow seven games in the division.
The Mets are at 48-42, but their lead in NL East has shrunk to just two games as the Phillies rise and win seven of their last 10 games.
Inside the Mets is here to preview some key matchups in this series between two NL playoff contenders.
Game 1: Jerad Eickhoff vs. Vladimir Gutierrez
With deGrom at the IL, Jerad Eickhoff remains the next man in the rotation due to the razor-thin pitching depth of the Mets.
After a solid debut in June, Eickhoff had some tough stakes for the Mets, allowing for seven runs on 14 hits in his last 8.2 innings.
On the other hand, Reds starter Vladimir Gutierrez is against Eickhoff. The right-handed rookie got off to a good start to his MLB career with a 4-3 record and 4.29 ERA in nine starts. And in seven of those nine starts he gave up three or fewer runs.
Game 2: TBA vs. Wade Miley
According to Mike Puma of The New York Post, the Mets tend to give right-handed Robert Stock the start.
Stock threw an inning in Syracuse on Sunday but should be available to throw again on Tuesday. The right-hander was solid in his solitary start as the Met on July 7, going 4 innings while allowing two runs and hitting five batters.
The Reds will send out left-handed Wade Miley, who stands 7-4 with a 2.80 ERA this season. In his last start, before the All-Star break, Miley threw eight shutout innings against the Brewers.
While Cincinnati isn’t in sell mode just yet, the Mets may be able to change that on this series. This could potentially create another trading destination in Miley should the Reds fall out of competition in the next week and a half.
Game 3: TBA vs. Jeff Hoffman
Although the Mets have not yet named a starter for Wednesday, all signs point to Marcus Stroman, who will regularly take a five-day break.
While Stroman wasn’t doing his best on his last outing, he still gave the Mets five innings, which allowed for only two runs.
Unfortunately, Stroman has not won a start against the Padres since June 12th. He’s also given up 10 runs in his last 18 innings and hasn’t gone deeper than five innings in any one outing since June 17.
In the third and final game of the series, Jeff Hoffman will conquer the hill for the Reds. The right-hander has been on the IL since May 27th with a right shoulder injury. In 10 starts this season Hoffman has ridden 3-4 with a 4.61 ERA and he might show some rust on this outing after not making a big league start in almost two months.
The Mets have to win at least two out of three this series, but it will be difficult as they don’t start pitching.
Fortunately, the offense scored 14 runs in their last 18 innings, which gives hope that they can carry the load. The ailing Michael Conforto delivered a much-needed starting shot for two runs yesterday in the top of ninth, which ultimately crowned his team’s comeback victory. The Mets urgently need Conforto’s clubs to work.
But what was also discovered on Saturday night with the Mets’ worst loss of the season is that sometimes even running support can’t save you as the bullpen lost a six-run lead with six outs to go.
With Eickhoff set to start tonight and likely an opening game on Tuesday, the Mets’ pen will have to play heroes again, as they did in Sunday’s competition.
As for the Reds, their bat Nick Castellanos’ status is up in the air right now as he was pitched on the right wrist on Friday and missed the rest of their streak with the Brewers. After Castellanos went under, the Reds’ offense fell asleep with a total of only four runs in the last two games.
While Castellanos’ wrist has “improved”, he will be out of the line-up again on Monday.
Without Castellanos, the Reds have another All-Star colleague Jesse Winker who has a breakout year with 19 home runs, 50 RBIs and a slash line of 0.292 / 0.373 / 521 with 0.894 OPS.
Cincinnati’s lineup includes a number of talented hitters in Jonathan India, Tyler Naquin, and Tyler Stephenson, but while Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez look dangerous, they don’t look like the same hitters they once were.
They have also sustained injuries to key figures like Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel.
The Reds pitching staff ranks 21st with a 4.48 ERA, while the Mets slipped to 6th with their own 3.53 ERA.