By: Stache Staff

PreGame: New York Mets (55-60) at Cincinnati Reds (69-46)


Mr. Red is the answer to the age-old question,
“What would it look like if Mr. Met became a deranged sailor with a handlebar mustache?”

Seeking the consistency that has eluded them for the entire second half, the Mets begin a six-game road trip that will pit them against two top-tier teams in Cincinnati tonight against the NL Central leading Reds. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. and the game can be seen on SNY or heard, as always, on WFAN 660AM. Join the conversation on Twitter by following @dailystache or yours truly, @DevOnSports.

The Reds are a vastly improved team since the last time the Mets saw them in mid-June, when they came into Citi Field and swept New York with relative ease. Since then the Reds have won 31 of the 50 games they’ve played to jump out to a five-game lead on the Pirates in the Central, And they’ve done it without MVP favorite Joey Votto, who has missed the last month with a knee injury.

But the Reds are also a squad that has been plagued by inconsistency. During that 50-game stretch they enjoyed winning streaks of 10, 5 and 6 games and losing streaks of 4, 3 and most recently five. After putting an end to that five-game skid on Friday, the Reds enter tonight’s game winners of three straight. They’ll be looking to build off that with Mat Latos on the mound tonight.

Latos will be opposed by Chris Young, who was rocked by the Marlins en route to a 13-0 Mets loss in his last start. That loss was one of four the Mets suffered on their recent six-game homestand. They have lost six of their last nine games, taking just one game from each of three series with San Diego, Miami and Atlanta.

To turn it around against the Reds, they’ll need some offensive production and who knows if the lineup Terry Collins sends out tonight is capable.

Mets Lineup:

Tejada – Baxter – Wright – Davis – Murphy – Valdespin – Torres – Thole – Young

Small Sample Stache: Center fielder Andres Torres is hitting .329/.421/.488 in 22 games played since the All-Star break.

Reds Lineup:

Cozart – Stubbs – Phillips – Ludwick – Bruce – Frazier – Valdez – Hanigan – Latos

Small Sample Stache: Reds third baseman Wilson Valdez hit .324 (11-for-34) against the Mets last season as a member of the Phillies and was 4-for-14 against them for the Reds during a three-game series in June. Those 15 hits are just seven fewer than the 22 he had in 41 games as a Met in 2009 and he has more RBI against the Mets over the last two seasons (10) than he had with them in ’09 (7).

Pitching Matchup:
NYM: Chris Young (3-6, 4.87 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 42 K) – Young was miserable in his last start, which showcased all of the bad parts of having Chris Young in your rotation. He allowed seven runs in less than five innings, gave up three home runs, walked three, struck out just four and his flyball-to-groundball ratio was 15:1.

Young has shown flashes for the Mets this season, most notably in a seven-inning gem against the Giants just two starts ago. He was also solid in his lone start against the Reds this season, allowing just two earned runs in a seven-inning effort. It was only for a lack of offense that he took the loss that day. Which Young shows up tonight will got a long way toward determining whether the Mets have a chance to win.

CIN: Mat Latos (10-3, 3.81 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 130 K) – When the Mets last saw Latos back in May, he was scuffling and their patient approach got him out of the game in just five innings. They went on to tee off for six runs in three innings against the Reds bullpen in a 9-4 win. But since then Latos has been more economical. He tossed back-to-back complete games in June and has gone at least seven innings in each of his last three starts.

In the process, Latos has dropped his ERA a full point. Since June 25 he’s only allowed more than two runs in a start once and boasts a 2.03 ERA over that span. He’s still walking about two batters per start, but the key for Latos has been limiting the contact. He has 60 strikeouts in those nine starts.

Stache Keys to the Game:

  1. Get on the Mat – The Mets can try to wait out Latos early as they did in May, but there’s a chance they’ll fall behind by doing so. If Latos shows control this time around, the Mets bats have to attack before it’s too late.
  2. We are Young – As important as giving Young runs to work with tonight will be, it won’t matter if he’s the same starter he was last week against Miami. Young has to use his smoke and mirrors to fool a Reds team that ranks fifth in the NL in OPS. Of course without OPS monster Joey Votto, that number falls quite a bit, so there’s opportunity there for Young.
  3. Pen Rest – During this weekend’s three-game series with the Atlanta Braves, the Mets bullpen logged 11.2 innings and even when they had a short night on Sunday, it still required three pitchers to go through one inning. Hopefully the unit comes back rejuvenated after yesterday’s day off.

This Date in Mets History:
Happy 67th Birthday to Mets PR man Jay Horwitz, who has been with the team for 33 of their 51 seasons.

On this date in the Mets’ inaugural season, Al Jackson tossed 215 pitches over 15 innings and still took the loss thanks to a two-run 15th inning single by Philadelphia’s Mel Roach. Six years later, things were a little brighter as Jerry Koosman tied the franchise record for wins in a season with his 16th in a victory over the Dodgers on this date in 1968.

On August 14, 1993, rookie second baseman Tim Bogar had a career day as he went 4-for-5 with a pair of homers and four RBI in a 9-4 win over the Phillies. The second of those homers was an inside the parker off Bobby Thigpen and Bogar tore a ligament in his left hand sliding home. The injury forced him to miss the rest of the ’93 season, but at least he went out on a high note.

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