NEW YORK METS (71-66, second place/NL East) at CINCINNATI REDS (57-78, fifth place/NL Central)
REDS SHORT HOPS
The Reds will honor Jay Bruce in a pregame ceremony Monday. Bruce was traded to the Mets on Aug. 1 for second baseman Dilson Herrera and 19-year-old left-hander Max Wotell. Bruce’s 135 homers are the most in Great American Ball Park history, while his 382 RBIs rank second to longtime teammate Brandon Phillips’ 428. The 22-year-old Herrera is hitting .283 with two homers and nine RBIs and has a .392 on-base percentage in 23 games since joining Triple-A Louisville. The Bats complete their season on Monday, so Herrera figures to join the Reds this series.
Cincinnati has lost its last 11 games against the Mets. That streak includes the Mets sweeping a series at Great American Ball Park last Sept. 25-27 when they clinched the NL East.
Center fielder Billy Hamilton departed Sunday’s game against St. Louis in the third inning with a strained left oblique. Hamilton owns a career-high 58 steals this season. He is the first MLB player to reach 56 steals in three straight seasons since Jose Reyes did so with the Mets from 2005 through 2008, and the first Reds player to do so since Joe Morgan from 1972 through 1976. Jose Peraza should primarily handle center field with Hamilton sidelined.
Phillips was scratched from Sunday’s lineup with a sore left foot. He had fouled a pitch off the foot the previous day.
Triple-A call-up Robert Stephenson starts on Labor Day in place of Homer Bailey. Bailey is being skipped after departing his last start after one inning with biceps tightness. Stephenson, who debuted with two starts in April, is the first Reds pitcher since Larry Luebbers in 1993 to win his first two major league starts. If he can earn the win against the Mets, he will become the first Reds pitcher since Wayne Simpson in 1970 to win his first three major league starts.
Joey Votto is hitting .375 (105-for-280) with 15 homers and 53 RBIs since May 30.
Zack Cozart snapped an 0-for-17 drought on Friday. He then reached base safely in seven of his next nine plate appearances, including five walks.
Opposing batters are hitting only .132 (9-for-68) against Brandon Finnegan in his last three starts.
Adam Duvall's next long ball will allow him to become the sixth player in Reds history whose primary position is left field to reach the 30-homer plateau. He will join Adam Dunn (2004-08), Greg Vaughn (1999), George Foster (1977-79), Frank Robinson (1956) and Hank Sauer (1948).
METS SHORT HOPS
Rafael Montero starts Tuesday in place of Jacob deGrom, who potentially will miss multiple starts with forearm inflammation. Montero tossed five scoreless innings against the Miami Marlins last Monday, but he required 100 pitches and walked six batters.
Neil Walker is due to undergo season-ending surgery this week to repair a herniated disk in his lower back that was causing numbness in a toe. Wilmer Flores and Kelly Johnson primarily should handle second base with the free-agent-to-be Walker out.