Winning streaks have been few and far between for the Reds (61-79) this season, but they’re riding one into Citi Field this weekend. Cincinnati is coming off a three-game sweep against the Brewers, hurting their division rival’s standing in both the NL Central and Wild Card races. The Reds will look to continue that momentum as they begin a seven-game road trip tonight against the Mets (60-79). After not seeing each other until late August, this will be the second time these two teams have battled against each other in the last two weeks. In Great American Ball Park, the Reds took two of three games last week.
Tonight’s series opener is set to kick off at 7:10 p.m. ET.
Tyler Mahle has been as good as advertised through his first two starts, particularly in his last one on Saturday. The 22-year-old blanked the Pirates through six innings, allowing only five hits and walking no one. That pinpoint command he displayed is his bread and butter. His career walk rate in the minor leagues sat at just 5.1 percent and is part of the reason he was able to get to the majors just four years after he was drafted in the seventh round out of high school. After facing a weak Pirates offense twice in a row, Mahle will get the injury-riddled Mets offense in his third big-league outing.
Matt Harvey’s once-promising career continues to spiral as he’s dealt with injury after injury. He threw only 92 2/3 ineffective innings last season before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, and his return this season has been disappointing to say the least. Not only has he missed nearly three months with a stress fracture in his scapula, but he’s also dealt with off-the-field issues, getting suspended for three games in May after he failed to even show up for a game.
He returned from his injury last Saturday against the Astros, and his start did not go well. Harvey lasted only two innings and was blasted for seven runs on eight hits. Astonishingly, the Mets were poised to let their oft-injured pitcher start yesterday on three days of rest, but common sense took hold and they decided to abandon that poor idea.
Harvey vs. Reds
Harvey has not faced the Reds this year. Here are his career numbers against them:
|CF Phillip Ervin (194 wRC+)||SS Jose Reyes (85 wRC+)|
|SS Zack Cozart (144 wRC+)||RF Nori Aoki (95 wRC+)|
|1B Joey Votto (165 wRC+)||3B Asdrubal Cabrera (101 wRC+)|
|LF Adam Duvall (104 wRC+)||LF Brandon Nimmo (108 wRC+)|
|2B Scooter Gennett (131 wRC+)||CF Juan Lagares (87 wRC+)|
|3B Eugenio Suárez (127 wRC+)||1B Dominic Smith (49 wRC+)|
|RF Scott Schebler (104 wRC+)||C Kevin Plawecki (77 wRC+)|
|C Stuart Turner (22 wRC+)||2B Matt Reynolds (62 wRC+)|
|P Tyler Mahle (5.06 xFIP)||P Matt Harvey (5.01 xFIP)|
— With Billy Hamilton out due to a fractured thumb and Jesse Winker still on the disabled list, Phillip Ervin is getting the starting nod in center field.
— Tucker Barnhart is getting the day off. Stuart Turner will spell him behind the plate.
— Wondering why you see some unfamiliar names or journeyman veterans in the Mets’ lineup? That’s because their top five offensive players in fWAR are either injured or no longer with the team. For the curious, those players are Michael Conforto (injured), Curtis Granderson (traded to Dodgers), Jay Bruce (traded to Indians), Yoenis Cespedes (injured), and Neil Walker (traded to Brewers).
— You may remember the Reds almost received Brandon Nimmo in the Bruce trade instead of Dilson Herrera. The deal ultimately fell through due to medical concerns for another player the Reds were set to receive. (Interesting that the deal snagged on that issue and neither of the players the Reds did acquire have stayed healthy.) Noted for his impressive plate discipline (13.6 BB% for his minor-league career), Nimmo is getting his first extended chance in the big leagues due to the injuries and trades. He’s carving a potential role for himself on next year’s team, batting .263/.400/.337 with an 18.0 BB%.
News, Notes, & Pre-Game Reading
Behind a 13-strikeout performance from Deck McGuire, the Reds’ Double-A affiliate won their opening playoff game last night:
Blue Wahoos win Game 1 of the South Division Series!
— Pensacola Blue Wahoos (@BlueWahoosBBall) September 7, 2017
Hunter Greene made his third career professional start, and it went much better than the second:
Hunter Greene retires 7 straight to end his outing: 3.0 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 4 K. Brewers leading 1-0, bottom of the 3rd.
— Billings Mustangs (@Mustangs) September 7, 2017
The Low-A Dayton Dragons saw a late lead slip away as they lost their first postseason contest:
West Michigan holds on for a 3-2 win over the Dragons. The series moves to Michigan.
— Dayton Dragons (@DragonsBaseball) September 7, 2017
Kind of a bummer that we won’t get to see this again until next year:
ICYMI: Luis Castillo turned it up to 100mph with life in his final start of the season pic.twitter.com/yXxZEslxjw
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) September 7, 2017
Stat of the Day
It took until almost the last month of the season, but the Reds’ starting pitching is finally keeping the team in ballgames consistently. The starters have a collective 2.64 ERA over their last 13 games, and no member of the rotation has allowed more than three runs in an outing during that time.
Growing up just north of Cincinnati, Matt has been a Reds fan for as long as he can remember. As a kid, he was often found leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 and imitating his favorite players (Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns) in the backyard. One of his earliest baseball memories is attending the final night game at Cinergy Field. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in the Dayton area. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.