Tanner Roark and the Cincinnati Reds starters look to dominate the Mets

SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 18: Tanner Roark #35 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park April 18, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 18: Tanner Roark #35 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park April 18, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Reds
SAN DIEGO, CA – APRIL 20: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park April 20, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

The pitching rich Cincinnati Reds visit Citi Field to battle rookie sensation Pete Alonso and a struggling New York Mets pitching staff in a 4-game set.

The Cincinnati Reds (11-16) suffered a setback over the weekend in a battle of NL Central Division contenders dropping 2-of-3 to the first place St. Louis Cardinals. Despite residing in the basement of the division, the Reds are winners in 6 of their last 10 contests and are playing much better baseball as of late.

Per usual in the 2019 season,  it’s been the Reds dominating pitching that has changed the fortunes of the club. Cincinnati hurlers lead NL pitching staffs in ERA and have allowed the fewest runs in the league. The team has received outstanding performances from both the starting rotation and the bullpen.

New additions Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark have certainly made positive contributions to the Reds, but it’s been the emergence of Luis Castillo, Robert Stephenson, and Amir Garrett that have been difference makers.

All three have been the best versions of themselves in the early going. Experience is undoubtedly a factor in their success, but you can’t overlook the impact new pitching coach Derek Johnson has had on the staff.

While the pitching has carried the club, the bats are showing signs of awakening from their slumber. A more patient approach at the plate is paying dividends for the team. In the last week, Reds hitters have drawn 25 free passes.

The Reds’ patience has not only raised pitch counts for opposing pitchers, but it’s allowed the club to get into opposing bullpens earlier in games. Over the past week, only two opposing starters have managed to throw 6 full innings against the Cincinnati Reds.

The host New York Mets (14-13) ended a 3-game skid by taking the finale in a weekend series with Milwaukee Brewers. Currently, the New Yorkers are sitting in second place in NL East behind the Philadelphia Phillies.

However, don’t let the second place position fool you. Pitching and catching have been a struggle for the Mets. Not only have New York pitchers’  kept the basepaths busy, the team has committed the most errors among anyone in Major League Baseball.

New York’s pitching staff has been the worst in the NL. Both the rotation and the bullpen share equal parts of the blame.  The starters and relievers have ERA’s north of 5.00. Mets pitchers have allowed the most runs in the league as well as allowing the highest opponent batting average. Each scheduled starter the Mets trot out to the mound against the Reds will have an ERA no better than 4.85.

The bat rack has been kinder to the Metropolitans. The club is currently 5th in both batting average (.260)  and on-base percentage (.344).  However, the Mets’ offense suffered a potential major blow on Sunday when second baseman Robinson Cano had to the leave the game after being hit on the left hand by a fastball from Brewers’ pitcher Gio Gonzalez.