New York Mets Series Preview vs. Cincinnati Reds


The New York Mets return home after yet another failed road trip in which the team dropped seven of eight games to fall back to .500 for the first time since April 12th. Their next opponent is the Cincinnati Reds, who come in having won their last two games, including a 13 inning battle against the Pirates. Both teams enter the series with no shortage of trade rumors circulating.

Also on Empire Writes Back: Where do the Mets rank in our MLB Power Rankings?

At 34-37, and 13.5 games behind the Cardinals, the Reds have been tagged as an obvious seller at the trade deadline. They have highly coveted pieces in Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman, Jay Bruce and Mike Leake. One man who was rumored as a potential trade candidate for the Mets was Todd Frazier. Frazier, who has driven in four runs in his last two games compared to three runs by the entire Mets offense, is one of the hottest hitters right now, with 24 home runs on the year.  Those rumors have since died down for a number of reasons, but mainly because Frazier has a couple years left under team control and could be the man they choose to build around with Votto.

The Mets fan base, however, has been so desperate to acquire a bat for one of their talented arms. So much so, that every time a position player exits a game early, rumors start to prematurely circulate on Twitter — with the latest being Kris Bryant on Thursday.

Speaking of Steven Matz, the southpaw has finally been called up from Triple A as the Mets will once again boast a six-man rotation. Matz has long been ready to pitch in the big leagues, according to scouts, and will get his first MLB start Sunday in the series finale. Hopefully, the team can generate some run support for the newbie.

“I think the fastball was mid-90s, but it looks like he’s handing you the ball almost,” said former Met Nick Evans, per Adam Rubin. “It just explodes out of his hand, onto you. It’s pretty impressive. He definitely throws a good curveball. And he throws his changeup for a strike. … He’s definitely been the best arm we’ve seen in this league so far this year. The consensus on our team is he’s the real deal.”

The offense is dead as they rank 29th in team batting average and hits. Injuries have not helped as Travis d’Arnaud was once again placed on the 15 day DL three days ago. One man who is expected to return from the DL this weekend is Daniel Murphy, whose .283 batting average would be the team’s highest once slotted back into the lineup. He doesn’t return without creating confusion on the infield, as the Mets may finally move Wilmer Flores from shortstop to second base. Ruben Tejada would fill in as the temporary shortstop, and the struggling rookie, Dilson Herrera, would be the odd man out according to ESPN.

If the offense isn’t very rousing for this series, the pitching should be. Matz has already been mentioned to start in the finale, and fellow rookie Noah Syndergaard will pitch the opener against Cueto. Syndergaard has struggled in his last three starts, going 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in that span. In his last start, he failed to make it to the fifth inning against the Braves.

Game two will feature Matt Harvey going up against Reds rookie, Michael Lorenzen. Harvey appeared to be back on track in his last start, pitching six scoreless innings before giving up a run in the seventh. He collected the loss in a 1-0 game.

The finale game will feature not one rookie pitcher, but two, as Reds starter Josh Smith made his major league debut on Tuesday. He allowed four runs while walking six batters and failed to make it past the third inning against the Pirates. He admitted nerves got to him, so look for him to settle down in his second start, while Matz is the one feeling butterflies.

Despite a buzz killing road trip, there should be plenty of excitement surrounding this weekend series based on the pitching match-ups alone. The only question is can the Mets offense somehow generate more runs than a team who currently carries Frazier, Votto, Bruce, Brandon Phillips, and Marlon Byrd in their lineup. The obvious answer seems to be no, but you can’t count the Mets out when playing at home, where they have a 26-11 record — the exact opposite of their 11-26 road record.

Next: Who was the best Met of 2014?

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