The New York Mets are in the midst of a season they’d like to forget, however Jacob deGrom may not feel the same from an individual perspective. The 29-year-old right-hander vies for his career-best 15th win of the season on Thursday afternoon as Mets play the rubber match of a three-game series at the Cincinnati Reds.
DeGrom, who is also four strikeouts shy of his career high set in 2015, won his lone start versus the Reds in that season after tossing six innings in an 8-1 victory. New York has run roughshod over Cincinnati in recent history, winning 15 of the last 16 encounters and 12 of 15 at Great American Ball Park. Neither team is setting the world on fire of late, as the Mets are 5-12 in their last 17 while the reeling Reds have dropped six of nine to remain comfortable in the cellar of the National League Central. Adam Duvall is 1-for-17 in his last four contests, although the one hit was a three-run homer in the series opener.
TV: 12:35 p.m. ET, SNY (New York)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Mets RH Jacob deGrom (14-7, 3.39 ERA) vs. Reds RH Robert Stephenson (2-4, 5.81)
DeGrom answered back-to-back five-run outings with a sterling performance on Friday, allowing just one run and striking out 10 over 7 2/3 innings of a 4-2 victory at Washington. “Been working on mechanics,” the right-hander told reporters, “(and this) was the closest it’s been to where I want it.” DeGrom has limited experience versus the existing Reds’ lineup, with Scooter Gennett going 3-for-10 against him.
Stephenson recorded a franchise-record six consecutive strikeouts to open his last start on Friday and finished with a career-best 11 over 5 2/3 innings in a 9-5 victory over Pittsburgh. “The slider, I probably got most of the strikeouts on that,” the 24-year-old rookie told reporters. “Obviously, it’s easier when you’re working ahead in the count. When I feel confident in my fastball, that’s when I‘m going to have a good game.” Stephenson has struggled with his control, issuing four walks versus the Pirates and 17 free passes over his last five outings.
1. New York SS Jose Reyes is 10-for-21 with eight runs scored in his last seven games.
2. Cincinnati SS Zack Cozart is 5-for-13 with four runs scored in his last three contests.
3. Mets RHP Matt Harvey (shoulder) threw a successful bullpen session on Wednesday and is on target to return for Saturday’s game against Houston, manager Terry Collins said.
PREDICTION: Reds 3, Mets 2