by Steve Mancuso

Great Pitching Matchup Takes Second Seat to Home Run Competition

The Reds (72-81) take on the New York Mets (79-73) in a three game weekend series at Great American Ball Park. The Mets aren’t quite out of the N.L. Wild Card competition, but they are 3.5 games behind Milwaukee and would have to jump both the Brewers and Cubs. If the Reds take this series, it would throw the final few shovels of dirt on the Mets season.

The two teams feature excellent starting rotations. We’ll get a big dose of that with tonight’s matchup. But the starting pitcher pairing is the undercard for the duel between Eugenio Suarez and Pete Alonso for the 2019 NL home run championship. Alonso enters the weekend with 49, one more than Suarez.

Pitching Matchup

This is one of the few games when Luis Castillo isn’t the best starting pitcher. Jacob deGrom won last season’s NL Cy Young award and is in a tight competition with three-time winner Max Scherzer this year. Scherzer finished second to deGrom in 2018. Castillo has had a strong second half of 2019 and matched deGrom the past few months.

The 31-year-old Mets righty faced the Reds back in May and threw seven shutout innings. He was matched pitch-for-pitch by Anthony DeSclafani. When both pitchers left the game, the score was 0-0. The Reds won on a 9th-inning solo home run by Jose Iglesias.

Luis Castillo had pitched against the Mets on April 30, the night before the deGrom game. He’d given up 2 earned runs in 6+ innings. The Reds lost that game 4-3 in extra innings.

Reds Lineup

Jose Peraza and Phillip Ervin get starts tonight. Josh VanMeter leads off against the right-hander deGrom. Joey Votto, Suarez and Aristides Aquino bat in the middle of David Bell’s lineup.

Here are the splits for Reds hitters against right-handed pitchers:

Mets Lineup

The Mets have a decided edge over the Reds on offense (#GetTheHitting). In addition to Alonso (147 wRC+), Jeff McNeil (144 wRC+), Michael Conforto (120 wRC+) and JD Davis (131 wRC+) all have potent bats. The Mets have Conforto and Davis batting 6 and 7 while the Reds have Jose Iglesias and Phil Ervin.

[Graphics: Baseball Savant]

Big thanks to Mike Hart, who contributed graphics and research for this post.

Steve Mancuso is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up during the Big Red Machine era. He’s been writing about the Reds for more than ten years. Steve’s fondest memories about the Reds include attending a couple 1975 World Series games, being at Homer Bailey’s second no-hitter and going nuts for Jay Bruce at Clinchmas. Steve was also at all three games of the 2012 NLDS, but it’s too soon to talk about that.