Mets hope to reverse downward trend vs. Reds

Jacob deGrom will throw off a mound in Cincinnati this week, just as planned.

Only nothing else is going according to plan for the New York Mets‘ ace right-hander heading into the start of a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday.

DeGrom, who is off to a 3-0 start with a 1.87 ERA, was scratched Sunday from his scheduled start Monday against the Reds because of a hyperextended right elbow even though he threw a pain-free bullpen session Saturday.

Left-hander P.J. Conlon, not considered one of the Mets’ top 10 prospects, will join the team from Triple-A and make his major league debut Monday night while opposing Reds right-hander Homer Bailey, who has yet to win in seven starts.

The 24-year-old Conlon was 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA for the Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League.

DeGrom was placed on the 10-day disabled list, but he will throw a bullpen session Tuesday at Great American Ball Park.

The Mets emphasized they are being overly cautious with their starting pitcher’s health. He is not experiencing discomfort, manager Mickey Callaway said, and he is expected to start Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies.

“We thought long and hard about this,” Callaway said before a 3-2 loss Sunday to the Colorado Rockies. “The more and more we talked about this, we need to take care of the season and Jacob deGrom and the New York Mets.”

Especially when the season already is beginning to take a downturn for the Mets, who finished a winless six-game homestand Sunday with their seventh loss in eight games and 14th in 20 games. That promising 11-1 start is fading fast.

“We’re struggling a little bit right now,” Mets starter Noah Syndergaard said. “But we could go on a run tomorrow just like we did to start the season.”

The Reds aren’t doing much better.

They wasted Joey Votto’s first four-hit game of the season in an 8-5 loss to the Miami Marlins in a rain-delayed game Sunday as starting pitcher Brandon Finnegan gave up five runs in 3 1/3 innings. The Reds’ fifth loss in six games dropped their record to a major league-worst 8-26.

DeGrom was removed from his start Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves after allowing two hits and striking out six in four shutout innings. He wasn’t hurt while pitching but while taking a swing, and an MRI showed no structural damage. The Mets went on to lose 7-0.

“I said I felt like I can go (Monday), but I think the bigger picture’s what we’re looking at,” deGrom told reporters Sunday in New York. “You go out there and something happens, and you end up missing five starts versus you can skip one and make sure everything’s fine. After talking to them (the Mets’ staff), I understand.”

The Mets could use some good injury news, because they’re certainly not getting any now. Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, who has a history of quadriceps and hamstring problems dating to 2016, was pulled after a first-inning single Sunday against Colorado because of right hip tightness, with his status uncertain.

Bailey, considered the Reds’ staff ace, is healthy even if the results for a pitcher who has thrown two no-hitters in the majors aren’t visible.

He’s 0-4 with a 4.81 ERA and still hasn’t won in eight months, or since beating the Milwaukee Brewers with six shutout innings on Sept. 27.

His last time out, he had more home runs allowed (2) than strikeouts (1) while giving up five runs and six hits in five innings during a 7-6 loss Tuesday to the Milwaukee Brewers. Not only has Bailey lost all four of his decisions, the Reds are 0-7 in the games he starts, and he ha already allowed eight home runs.

“He was pretty labored there, so we got him out,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said.

This is Bailey’s worst start since he was 0-6 in his first eight games as a rookie in 2008.

Bailey hasn’t had much success against the Mets, either, going 1-4 with a 6.49 ERA in six career starts against them, giving up 45 hits in 34 2/3 innings.

However, not many of the current Mets batters have much of a history against him except Adrian Gonzalez, who is 11-for-25 with six homers and 10 RBIs against him, although he’s currently hitting only .231. Wilmer Flores is 1-for-3 (.333) with a double and former Reds third baseman Todd Frazier is 1-for-2 (.500).