Reds-Mets Preview

The Cincinnati Reds own one of the best starters’ ERAs in

baseball, and now they’re welcoming back Johnny Cueto.

The right-hander will be activated off the disabled list to make

his first start in more than a month when the Reds open a

three-game road set against the New York Mets on Monday night.

Cincinnati starters have pitched to an ERA of 3.20, with 14 2-3

straight scoreless innings heading into this contest.

Cueto (1-0, 2.60 ERA) hasn’t started since April 13 due to a

strained right lat. He yielded one run over eight innings in two

rehab starts at Class A Dayton.

The injury-plagued pitcher says his injury is similar to the one

he had in 2011, when he changed his delivery.

“I’m going to have to see what’s going on,” Cueto told the Reds’

official website. “If that continues to happen, I’m going to have

to make some changes in my mechanics.”

Cueto had been 0-3 with a 6.58 ERA in five starts versus the

Mets (17-24) before yielding one run over seven innings of a 3-1

victory June 17, his lone start of last season against them.

Rick Ankiel is 7 for 16 against Cueto while Marlon Byrd is 6 for

11. Ankiel has gone 6 for 20 with two homers in six games since

joining the Mets last Monday.

Cincinnati went 6-2 against New York last year as Jay Bruce and

Todd Frazier combined for seven homers and 14 RBIs – 10 by

Bruce.

Bruce enters with two notable hitting streaks of 10 games,

batting .390 with four homers and 12 RBIs during an overall run and

.349 with 11 RBIs during another on the road.

Joey Votto is also surging, going 17 for 33 in an eight-game hit

streak and 28 for 56 during a 14-game run on the road. He leads the

major leagues with 37 walks and an on-base percentage of .473, with

teammate Shin-Soo Choo not far behind in those departments (31

walks, .463 OBP).

Votto is 5 for 9 against the Mets’ Shaun Marcum (0-4, 6.75), who

has dropped all four starts this season after losing four times in

21 outings with Milwaukee in 2012.

Marcum has limited the Reds to a .213 average in four starts,

but he’s allowed opponents to bat .341 this year. The right-hander,

who visited a chiropractor the day before his last outing Wednesday

in St. Louis, has failed to last past the fifth inning three

times.

The Mets have scored more than four runs once in their last 13

home games, with three or fewer in seven straight. Daniel Murphy

went 14 for 28 during a 3-4 road trip, delivering a go-ahead solo

homer in the eighth inning of a 4-3 win over the Cubs on

Sunday.

”I feel like I’m taking better swings,” Murphy said. ”I feel

better with my swing. I’m also getting better pitches to hit.”

The Reds entered the weekend as winners of six straight before

losing two of three in Philadelphia. Closer Aroldis Chapman allowed

back-to-back solo homers to blow his second straight save chance in

a 3-2 defeat Sunday.

“An unfortunate ending, stunning, but that’s the game,” manager

Dusty Baker said.