What to look for: Mets vs. Reds, 7:10 PM

Great American Ballpark 3

The Mets open a four-game series with the Reds at 7:10 PM on Thursday night at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.

BaronHere is tonight’s starting lineup for New York:

Curtis Granderson RF
David Wright 3B
Daniel Murphy 2B
Yoenis Cespedes CF
Lucas Duda 1B
Travis d’Arnaud C
Michael Conforto LF
Ruben Tejada SS
Steven Matz LHP

Here is tonight’s pitching matchup:

Steven Matz (4-0, 1.80 ERA) will start for the Mets.

Josh Smith (0-2, 7.71 ERA) will start for the Reds.

Mets vs RedsHere’s what I am looking for tonight from the Mets:

Wake up already.

The Mets had a dismal homestand. There’s no other way to put it. So it’s time for them to put that nine game stretch in the rear view mirror and play like the Mets who are close to clinching the National League East.

That would require better pitching top to bottom, and far and away better hitting than what was on display at Citi Field over the last week. They have done it before, so they can do it again.

Meet the Matz.

Matz has been a splendid addition to the Mets rotation when he’s been healthy. He’s been a little erratic at times since returning from the disabled list, but it was mostly smooth sailing for him in his last start against the Yankees at Citi Field last Friday. But he settled in after a rough start and began utilizing a slider, which is a new pitch he’s started to work on in his side sessions.

He’ll be making his second start of the season against the Reds tonight – he made his big league debut against them earlier this season. So, the Reds will have an idea about Matz if he doesn’t adjust and change the program a little bit.

The key for Matz is to be settled early on. He’s struggled to get comfortable in his starts since returning from the disabled list, which has helped drive his pitch count up early with pitches under duress. The Mets need to start getting consistent length from the starters again, and it would be nice if that started with Matz tonight.

How about some big hits?

The Mets were really lacking with runners in scoring position over the last nine days, which contributed to their 2.55 runs per game they scored during that stretch. They looked a little better on Wednesday night, but still lacked that big punch to tack on necessary insurance runs, and that cost them in the end.

They’re in better hitters environments over the next six games at both Great American and Citizens Bank Parks, so the offense should tick up over the next few days. But that doesn’t necessary control their ability to hit well with runners in scoring position. That requires better at-bats, working the count, and improved plate discipline, all of which has been absent lately.

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