The New York Mets (48-42, 20-28 away) and the Cincinnati Reds (48-45, 23-23 home) begin a three-game National League series Monday night in Ohio. This will be the first time this season the two franchises will be facing each other.
The first pitch of the series opener is at 7:10 p.m. EST inside Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, OH. According to oddsmakers, Cincinnati is a slight favorite at -115, with the run total pegged at 10.5.
What to Know – New York Mets
The Mets salvaged the opening series of the second half with a victory Sunday over the Pittsburgh Pirates. New York dropped the opening pair to the Pirates, including blowing a 6-0 lead in game two. Even with losing two of three to Pittsburgh, the Mets own a two-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East.
The visitors send Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 4.97 ERA, 1.58 WHIP) to the mound to take on the Reds. Eickhoff’s seen action in only three games this season, logging two starts and throwing 12.2 innings with seven earned runs surrendered on 17 hits. The 31-year came out of the bullpen and fired 2.2 innings in his last appearance prior to the All-Star break.
New York ranks 23rd in the majors and 11th in the NL with a .230 team batting average. First baseman Pete Alonso, the Home Run Derby champion, paces the Mets with 17 home runs and 49 runs driven in. The Mets lineup took a hit over the last week with the loss of star shortstop Francisco Lindor who is out indefinitely with a strained oblique.
What to Know – Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati would have liked a better start to the second half after an opening three-game sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Reds’ pitching was weak, allowing 26 runs over the three games to one of the league’s worst offenses. After the sweep, Cincinnati sits seven games back of the NL Central lead.
25-year old Vladimir Gutierrez (4-3, 4.29 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) is on the hill for the hosts. The right-hander has pitched well this month, logging 12.0 innings with a 2.25 ERA in over two starts. Gutierrez fired 6.0 innings of one-run ball in his last outing prior to the mid-season break.
The Reds are eighth in the majors and third in the NL, batting .246 as a team. All-Stars Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker headline one of the major’s best offenses, combining for 37 home runs and 109 RBIs between the two hitters. Rookie third baseman Jonathan India’s transition to the majors has been smooth, leading the Reds in on-base percentage (.395) with seven home runs and seven stolen bases.
The Pick is In
The Reds need a victory here to stop the early bleeding in the second half. Cincinnati’s lineup should be able to score runs in bunches of Eickhoff, and the two strong starts by Gutierrez this month should continue against the Mets’ lineup.
This one will be high-scoring, but we like the Reds to get back on to winning tonight.
The Pick: Cincinnati Reds ML