Reds trio of rookie hurlers look to sparkle as Cincinnati welcomes the Mets to town

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Hunter Greene.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Hunter Greene. / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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It's over, Reds Country. After dropping 10 consecutive home games, their longest such skid since 1986, the Cincinnati Reds (27-51) finally broke through with a 4-3 walk-off win yesterday versus the Atlanta Braves.

Granted, it took incredible generosity on the Braves' part. Still, Cincinnati took advantage of Atlanta's miscues to celebrate their first victory at Great American Ball Park since a 14-8 triumph over the Arizona Diamondbacks nearly a month ago.

Unfortunately, the Reds will not get to celebrate too long as the National League East-leading New York Mets visit the Queen City. After posting a winning record in May, the Redlegs stumbled badly again in June going a disappointing 9-18 while winning just three of 14 games on their home field.

When you're 24 games under .500, winning at all has been difficult. But the Cincinnati Reds have struggled to an alarming 13-25 mark at GABP. However, the Reds will have eight more opportunities to improve their home record this week before hitting the road to close out the first half of the 2022 campaign.

Will we see any fireworks between the Reds and Mets?

Don't look for the New York Mets (49-30) to offer any sympathy to their hosts this week. Veteran manager, Buck Showalter, in his first season at the helm of the Metropolitans, has New York sitting atop of the NL East as they lead the defending world champion Braves by 3.5 games.

How dominant have the Mets been this season? They've been in first place in the division every day but one when they fell a half-game back on Monday, April 11th.

To absolutely no one's surprise, the Mets have excelled at the plate as well as the pitching mound. Entering play yesterday, the Mets' .327 team OBP ranked second among all NL clubs. Currently, New York has five regulars with an OBP north of .333 led by Jeff McNeil who's reaching base at a .377 clip.

Additionally, the Mets pitching staff places third in the senior circuit with 735 K's, and the 229 bases on balls they've issued are the third-fewest in the NL as well. When it comes to slamming the door in late-inning situations, few do it as well as New York.

Closer Edwin Diaz, the NL Reliever of the Month in June, has compiled 18 saves while fanning an astronomical 63 in just 32.1 innings. Needless to say, if the Cincinnati Reds trail late, it's nearly impossible to defeat the Mets entering the ninth inning.

Over the last decade, the Mets have dominated the Reds going 34-25. Cincinnati has not won a season series versus the Metropolitans since 2013 and you have to go back to the 2018 campaign to find the last time the Reds captured a series at Great American Ball Park.

Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs. Mets

Reds starting pitcher Hunter Greene vs. Mets starting pitcher Tijuan Walker

Fireballing Hunter Greene (3-9 5.72 ERA) gets the Independence Day start for your Cincinnati Reds as he'll battle Taijuan Walker (6-2 2.72 ERA) of the Mets. Cincinnati's rookie right-hander was better in his last outing over his previous couple of starts despite being saddled with the loss.

Tossing four innings versus the Chicago Cubs, Greene allowed just two hits while fanning five Cubbies, but allowed three runs. However, the 22-year-old California native kept the ball in the ballpark after allowing five round-trippers in his previous 10 frames of work.

Taijuan Walker will be making just his second career start against the Reds. His only previous start came way back in 2017 when he was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Cincinnati dented the plate five times in that contest over the right-hander's five innings as both Joey Votto and Scooter Gennett took Walker deep in a Reds' 7-0 shutout victory over the D-backs.

Reds starting pitcher Nick Lodolo vs. Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer

Fellow Cincinnati rookie Nick Lodolo (1-2 5.52 ERA) makes his first start Tuesday night since suffering a back injury following his last start versus the St. Louis Cardinals on April 24th. His reward for being activated from the IL will be facing future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer (5-1 2.54 ERA) for Buck Showalter's club.

Lodolo was brilliant in his last appearance in a Cincinnati Reds uniform. The lefty held the Cardinals to just one run while fanning seven over 5.2 innings as he collected his first MLB victory. Making three rehab starts for Triple-A Louisville, the southpaw produced an impressive 2.54 ERA as well as recording 16 K's in just 10.2 frames.

Speaking of hurlers returning from the IL, Max Scherzer will be making his first start for the Mets since May 18 against the Cardinals. Following that outing, Mad Max was placed on the shelf with an oblique strain.

Since 2018 Scherzer has abused Cincinnati hitters. In their last five matchups, the right-hander is 4-1 with a microscopic 1.32 ERA. If that's not impressive enough, the three-time Cy Young Award winner has whiffed 51 in only 34 innings in that time span.

Reds starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft vs. Mets starting pitcher TBD

Wednesday night's series finale will feature Cincinnati's third rookie starter in as many days as Graham Ashcraft (4-2 4.53 ERA) toes the rubber for the Redlegs. New York has yet to name a starter to oppose the Cincinnati Reds right-hander.

Ashcraft is looking to rebound following the toughest appearance of his brief MLB career. Lasting just 2.1 innings, the Cubbies crossed the plate seven times as the 24-year-old Alabama native had the shortest outing of his eight big league starts. However, the rookie has been dominant at home going 3-1 with a sparkling 2.59 ERA in four starts at GABP.

Reds rookie Hunter Greene has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in 2022.

The numbers may not be dazzling, however, they're not unexpected. Despite owning a fastball that touches triple digits with relative ease, it was going to be nearly impossible for Hunter Greene to dominate major league hitters upon arriving in the big leagues.

Nevertheless, there's been plenty of glimpses as to what Greene will be in the future, hopefully, sooner rather than later. The 22-year-old ranks 10th in the National League with 93 strikeouts in just 74 innings. Additionally, he's just one of three hurlers in the senior circuit with a complete game shutout this season.

That's not to say there are aspects of Hunter Greene's game that must be addressed. First, the 20 round-trippers he's surrendered are the most in the league. Next, the 34 free passes from the former second-overall pick of the 2017 MLB Draft are the 10th most in the NL.

However, there's no mistaking the potential Greene provides. As the 2022 campaign progresses, he'll continue to take his lumps, but Reds Country can envision a scenario when Hunter Greene is the ace of the Cincinnati Reds' next contending ball club.

Prediction: Reds vs. Mets

Reds Country, if you're looking for a little optimism, I have you covered. The Cincinnati Reds are an impressive 108-95 on Independence Day. Will it be enough to ensure a series victory over an excellent New York Mets ball club?

Unfortunately, it will not. Look for the Metropolitans to take two of three from the Redlegs before Cincinnati welcomes Pittsburg to the Queen City for a doubleheader on Thursday.

Next. Predicting the Reds starting lineup after the trade deadline. dark