Jun 14, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) is congratulated by third base coach Mark Berry (41) after hitting a home run during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

Series Preview: Reds @ Mets

The Reds and the Mets meet once again at Citi Field for another head-to-head match-up this year, but this time around they will be playing a regular, three-game set. After a couple series of interleague play, both teams will settle back into normal NL play before they head back to face more AL teams and wrap up that part of the schedule. Both of these clubs are playing very well right now, coming off three-game sweeps of their previous opponents.

New York felt the best way to get over a sweep at the hands of the Yankees was to sweep the Rays in Tampa. The offense exploded and scored 29 runs in those three games. Despite winning three in a row, they are 4-6 in their last ten games and are sitting at 4.5 games out of first with a 35-29 record. Since the Nationals have won six in a row, the Mets have only been able to keep pace instead of gaining ground.

As for the Reds, they lost two of three to the Tigers in Detroit before coming home to the Great American Ballpark and sweeping the Indians right out of town, scoring 24 runs in those three wins. Like the Mets, Cincinnati has only gone 5-5 in their last ten games, but are standing alone in first place, three games ahead of the Pirates with a 35-27 record.

June 14, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; New York Mets third baseman David Wright (5) scores a run in the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

How they’re performing:

After being swept by the Yankees, the Mets unloaded all their frustrations on the Tampa Bay Rays, as they scored at least nine runs in each of their three games. As usual, the offense has been led by David Wright, who continues to lead the team in batting average (.358), on-base% (.460), and runs scored (44). Omar Quintanilla (.326 BA) continues to impress with the bat, while Kirk Nieuwenhuis (.298 BA) does the same. Lucas Duda still leads the club with 10 home runs and 40 RBI.

Mets Offense Avg. OBP% Slug% Runs HR
Statistic  .259  .332  .396  291  51
MLB Rank  11th  5th  17th  9th  22nd

The solid pitching performances of Chris Young and R.A. Dickey helped put the pitching staff back on track, even though Johan Santana didn’t have his best stuff again yesterday afternoon. Dickey has been the workhorse of the staff, leading the team with 10 wins, 2.20 ERA, 90 innings pitched, and 90 strikeouts. Tim Byrdak and Bobby Parnell continue to be the most consistent relievers, while Jon Rauch (4.62 ERA) got out of a bases loaded, no-out situation yesterday to start re-building his confidence.

Mets Pitching ERA WHIP Saves K’s OP BA
Statistic  4.19  1.33  18  515  .256
MLB Rank  22nd  18th  T-8th  15th  17th

The Reds offense has been led by first baseman Joey Votto, who is first on the squad in batting average (.362), on-base% (.485), and slugging% (.657). Brandon Phillips (.292 BA) and Ryan Hanigan (.290 BA) have done a nice job to give Votto some support. Although Votto also leads the team in runs scored (41) and RBI (44), his 12 homers aren’t enough, as Jay Bruce currently has the team lead with 13 bombs.

Reds Offense Avg. OBP% Slug% Runs HR
Statistic .251  .318  .422  270  72
MLB Rank  17th  17th  7th  15th  8th

Cincinnati’s pitching has been the reason why they are currently in first place in the NL Central. Johnny Cueto has the lowest ERA (2.46) among starters, and leads the team with 87.2 innings pitched. Mat Latos leads the staff in strikeouts with 66. The bullpen has been the strong point for this team, as they have four relievers (Aroldis Chapman, Jose Arredondo, Alfredo Simon, and J.J. Hoover) with double-digit appearances and an ERA under 2.75.

Reds Pitching ERA WHIP Saves K’s OP BA
Statistic  3.57  1.26  18  488  .252
MLB Rank  7th  9th  T-8th  9th  14th

Probable pitching match-ups:

Bronson Arroyo (CIN) 2-4, 3.79 ERA vs. Dillon Gee (NYM) 4-4, 4.42 ERA

Homer Bailey (CIN) 4-4, 4.35 ERA vs. Jonathon Niese (NYM) 4-2, 3.69 ERA

Johnny Cueto (CIN) 7-3, 2.46 ERA vs. Chris Young (NYM) 1-0, 3.38 ERA

Outside of Arroyo and Young making appearances in this series, both teams are throwing some of their best young arms to offenses that are clicking on all cylinders. Although these are all enticing match-ups, I’m excited to watch the finale. Cueto is coming off his second complete game effort of the season, the most recent one a one-run, six-hit effort against the Indians. Young, as we all know, battled through 5+ innings to get his first win since April 2011. It will be interesting to see how Young pitches after throwing 100+ pitches in his last start.

Recent head-to-head contests:

Last year, New York and Cincinnati met 7 times last season and the Amazins took the series by going 5-2 in their head-to-head match-ups. Terry Collins’ struggled at home,  losing two of three, but they went into the Great American Ballpark and swept a four-game series. A different pitcher earned the win in each of the five victories, with Jason Isringhausennotching two saves. The

Mets scored 42 runs in the seven contests, averaging six runs per ballgame. There was only one extra inning affair last season, a 13-inning marathon that was eventually won by the Reds.

To refresh your memory, Cincy and New York met for a quick two game set at Citi Field a month ago, with each winning a game each. There wasn’t a whole lot of great pitching or defense, as both teams combined to score 22 runs in the short series. Jose Arredondo and the Reds took the first game 6-3, while Bobby Parnell helped secure the split in a 9-4 in the finale.

After this match-up, the Mets will make their lone trip to the Great American Ballpark in a couple months for a three-game set on August 14th.

What to watch for:

Ike Davis has woken up with three straight multi-hit games. Is he back or is it an aberration?  We will see if he can bring some of that magic to Citi Field, where he is hitting only .102 on the season. Also, Jason Bay got in on the act yesterday at the Trop with a home run of his own, but that was only his second hit since returning to the lineup a week ago. Now coming back home for the first time since he returned from the DL, he will need to produce and produce quick to prevent the boo birds from coming out.

In the opposing dugout, fans will appreciate watching both Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips play. Both of these players have gotten long-term deals from the Reds, and they are the cornerstones of this franchise and have been performing like such in these first two months.

Let’s see which team stays hot in this weekend set… Let’s go Mets!

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Tags: Brandon Phillips Bronson Arroyo Chris Young Cincinnati Reds David Wright Dillon Gee Jay Bruce Joey Votto Johan Santana Jonathon Niese Matt Musico New York Mets R.A. Dickey Rising Apple Ryan Hanigan Series Preview

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