The Cincinnati Reds did their part Wednesday to improve the New York Mets’ flickering playoff hopes. On Friday, the Mets will look to thank the Reds by beating them.
The Mets’ last-ditch playoff chase continues in Cincinnati when reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom (9-8, 2.61 ERA) is scheduled to oppose the Reds’ Luis Castillo (15-6, 3.22 ERA) in a battle of All-Star right-handers.
Both teams were off Thursday after earning series-winning road victories Wednesday. The Mets scored four runs in the ninth inning to beat the Colorado Rockies 7-4, and the Reds outlasted the Chicago Cubs 3-2 in 10 innings.
The Mets (79-73) sit 3 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers (83-70) in the race for the second National League wild card with New York having 10 games to play. The Cubs (82-71) are 2 1/2 games ahead of the Mets.
That’s a daunting deficit, but it could have been worse.
“Obviously, we’d have liked to have swept (the Rockies) at this point,” Mets first baseman Pete Alonso told reporters on Wednesday after hitting his 49th homer, tying him with Mark McGwire for the second most ever by a rookie. “But taking a series is big for us. We’re just going to go ahead and grab as many games as we can and see where the dust settles. We still have an outside shot.”
Of course, after making the Cubs’ path to the postseason more difficult, the Reds (72-81) aren’t likely to roll over for the Mets.
The Reds have a .500 or better record this season against six opponents either still in the playoff race or already headed for the postseason, including the Mets (the teams split a four-game series in New York from April 29 through May 2) and the Houston Astros, whom host Cincinnati swept from June 17-19.
“When we’re at our best, we can play with the best teams,” Reds manager David Bell told reporters Wednesday.
DeGrom continued his push for a second straight Cy Young on Saturday, when he didn’t factor into the decision after tossing seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball in the Mets’ 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 31-year-old has a 2.09 ERA in his past 21 starts dating back to May 22.
In five career starts against the Reds, deGrom is 2-1 with a 1.74 ERA. He started against Cincinnati once this year, tossing seven scoreless innings on May 1, winding up without a decision in a game the Mets won 1-0 with a ninth-inning run.
Castillo, who joined deGrom on this year’s NL All-Star team, earned the win on Saturday when he allowed two runs over five innings as the Reds beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 in Phoenix. He is Cincinnati’s first 15-game winner since 2014, when Johnny Cueto finished 20-9 and Alfredo Simon went 15-10.
Castillo is 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA in two career starts against the Mets. In his lone outing vs. New York this year, he yielded two runs in 6 2/3 innings during a no-decision on April 30. The Reds emerged with a 4-3, 10-inning win.
–Field Level Media