The Cincinnati Reds (54-49, 28-23 away) battle the New York Mets (54-47, 32-18 home) in a three-game series beginning Friday night. This will be the second series between the two squads, with the Mets taking two of three earlier this month.
The first pitch for the series opener is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. EST at Citi Field in Queens, N.Y. According to oddsmakers, the Mets are the betting favorite (-120), and the run total is set at 8.
What to Know – Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati enters the weekend on a three-game winning streak, having defeated the Chicago Cubs in three of four games during the week. The Reds opened the second half of play with four straight losses but have bounced back, winning six of their last nine games. Cincinnati sits in second place in the National League Central.
The expected starter for the Reds is Sonny Gray (2-6, 4.50 ERA, 1.41 WHIP). Gray has been dismal this month, sporting a 1-2 record with a 7.20 ERA. The 31-year old lasted only 3.1 innings in his last trip to the mound, allowing eight earned runs on eight hits, including three home runs, to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cincinnati has one of the best offensive lineups in the MLB, ranking fourth in on-base percentage (.332) and ninth in slugging percentage (.420). The Reds have five players with 50 or more runs batted in, led by All-Star outfielder Nick Castellanos with 59. Jesse Winker, another 2021 All-Star, leads the Reds with 21 home runs and 58 RBIs of his own.
What to Know – New York Mets
The Mets continue a lengthy homestand with the final three games of an 11 game stretch in the Big Apple. New York is 4-4 over the first eight games at home and 7-7 in the second half. Even with the average play, the Mets own the top spot in the division, 3.5 ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Veteran pitcher Carlos Carrasco is slated to make his season debut in the series opener. The 34-year old has been on the shelf all season with a torn right hamstring. Carrasco is not expected to go deep into Friday night’s game after making three rehab starts and topping out at three innings.
New York is pretty pedestrian on offense, ranking near the middle of the pack in OBP and slugging percentage. First baseman Pete Alonso continues to be the catalyst for the Mets offense with 23 home runs and 62 RBIs. The Mets lineup has faced injuries all season and currently playing without star shortstop Francisco Lindor.
The Pick is In
A battle of two teams in the NL playoff hunt is on tap for fans this weekend, beginning Friday night. The Reds are five games back of a wild card spot while the Mets try to maintain their top spot.
Gray has struggled in recent starts and shown no signs of command of his pitches. Carrasco toes the rubber for the first time this season and faces one of the best offenses in the NL. The best play here is to take the over.
The Prediction: Cincinnati/New York OVER 8 runs