After a 4-3 loss last night to the Reds, the Mets will turn to Jonathon Niese to even the series. Although Niese hasn’t been the strongest pitcher this year (3-4, 5.40), he is coming off his best start of the year. After shutting down the Cardinals to just two runs and leading the Mets to a 5-2 victory over the best team in baseball. However, shutting down the Reds is no easy task. During an in-game interview last night, ace Matt Harvey even confessed that pitching to Votto was near impossible. “He doesn’t swing at much outside the strike zone,” said Harvey, recognizing Votto’s precise decision making. If Niese plans to win tonight’s game, he will have to work the counts against key players like Votto.
Also, containing Jay Bruce will be a huge problem for the Mets’ pitching staff. Now on an 11-game winning streak, Bruce has already shown in the series that he can pose as a vital threat. His solo shot to give the Reds a 4-3 lead was all the Reds needed to close out the game, and the Mets cannot afford to let that happen again. The Mets’ offense also has to contribute in order to succeed against the offense of the Reds, who have scored the 8th most runs in all the MLB this year. Last night, the Mets showed early success against Cueto yet they were only able to produce off a Marlon Byrd home run. Tonight, against Mike Leake, the Mets should be able to put some runs on the board. Leake on the year has a 3.72 ERA and on average gives up more than one hit an inning. The Mets should be able to capitalize against Cincinnati’s worst starter, and if Niese pitches a solid game the Mets should be able to win.
Lastly, the Mets should have an easier time tonight because of the Reds’ lineup. They have decided to sit three starters, including lead-off hitter Shin-Soo Choo. Along with Choo, the Reds have benched Ryan Hannigan and Xavier Paul, for Derrick Robinson, Donald Lutz, and Devin Mesoraco respectively. However, shortstop Zach Cozart returns to the lineup for the Reds which may cause some concern, but the overall analysis is that this should be an easier team to face rather than the typical Reds’ starting lineup.