7/4/22 Game Preview: New York Mets at Cincinnati Reds

A series victory over the Texas Rangers helped the New York Mets (49-30) ease the concerns of a fan base accustomed to panicking at the first sign of trouble. The Mets took advantage of a strong series from Eduardo Escobar, who homered in all three games of their set with the Rangers, to maintain their 3.5-game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. Next up is a brief road trip to take on one of the National League’s worst teams, the Cincinnati Reds (27-51). First pitch for the opener of this series is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. at Great American Ball Park.

2021 was a solid season for the Reds, who went 83-79 to finish in third place in the National League Central, finishing 12 games back of the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. That record would have been good enough to help the Reds secure the final wild-card spot in the new playoff format but Cincinnati proceeded to have a firesale over the course of the offseason under a directive from ownership to cut costs. Wade Miley and Tucker Barnhart were moved to save money while Nick Castellanos, one of the best hitters in the Reds’ lineup, was never an option to retain beyond the qualifying offer. The Reds also used a trade with Seattle to dump Eugenio Suarez’s contract at the cost of All-Star outfielder Jesse Winker without bringing back a ton of noteworthy prospects in return. Owner Bob Castellini has come under fire for his cheapness and critical comments of the fan base at the start of the season, making this a team in transition that may ship out even more pieces ahead of the trade deadline. In other words, this is a team that the Mets should be able to take advantage of this week.

Right-hander Taijuan Walker (6-2, 2.72 ERA) is set to take the mound for the Mets tonight. Walker pitched very well in his last start, tossing 7.1 shutout innings against the Houston Astros last Wednesday, but was left with a no-decision after the Mets couldn’t hit Justin Verlander at all in a game they eventually lost 2-0. The Reds will counter with talented rookie righty Hunter Greene (3-9, 5.72 ERA), who has flashed a triple-digit fastball as the highlight of his arsenal. Greene didn’t last long in his last start, giving up three runs in four innings against the Chicago Cubs last Wednesday to suffer his ninth loss of the year.

Local Coverage:

Television: SNY

Radio: WCBS

New York Mets Lineup:

Pre-Game Notes:

    The Mets went 3-3 against the Reds last season and won two out of three during their last trip to Cincinnati last July.

    Walker has faced the Reds once in his career, giving up five runs in five innings on July 8, 2017 to suffer a loss when he was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    Greene has never faced the Mets before.

    Mark Canha is back in the Mets’ lineup after getting a day off yesterday. He will start in left field and bat seventh.

    Joey Votto has a two-run homer in two career at-bats against Walker.