The New York Mets hope to depart Cincinnati on Wednesday with a much-needed series victory, but even if they do, they'll be leaving behind a bit of franchise history.
For former Mets ace Matt Harvey, New York is officially in his past, and Cincinnati is his immediate future.
Prior to their 7-2 loss Tuesday at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday, the Mets traded Harvey, who refused a minor league assignment last week, to the Reds for former starting catcher Devin Mesoraco and cash. The Reds envision Harvey joining them later this week in Los Angeles, where they start a four-game series against the Dodgers on Thursday.
Before that happens, the teams close out their three-game series Wednesday afternoon with right-handers Zack Wheeler (2-2, 5.79 ERA) of the Mets and Sal Romano (2-3, 4.21 ERA) of the Reds opposing each other. The Mets won 7-6 on Monday after going through a winless six-game homestand, only to lose their seventh in eight games on Tuesday as Eugenio Suarez doubled among his three hits and drove in four runs.
"I feel good at the plate. I'm not trying to do too much, just put the ball in play," said Suarez, who has five multi-hit games since coming off the disabled list April 26. "I'm trying to find a ball in the strike zone and put a good swing on it."
The Reds also got a strong start from Luis Castillo (2-4), who struck out seven and walked one while giving up two runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings. But starting pitcher is a big issue for a team with a 9-27 record -- as evidenced by top starting pitcher Homer Bailey (0-5), who is winless in eight starts. The rest of the rotation is made up of promising but unproven young pitchers.
Hence the Reds' acquisition of the 29-year-old Harvey, a former All-Star who was 13-8 in 2015 but is 9-19 since. He is 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA this season and was recently demoted to the bullpen before being designated for assignment -- all this following seasons in which his ERA was 4.86 (2016) and 6.70 (2017).
Harvey last started April 19, but Reds general manager Dick Williams envisions him moving into the rotation shortly after he joins the team.
"Suffice to say that (the Reds) were optimistic that there were things we could tweak," Williams said. "Certainly it's not like his stuff has disappeared. There is stuff there. The velocity's been good and we really like the changeup. It may be more of a pitch mix and approach than a big mechanical change, I think is what we are looking at."
Mesoraco, like Harvey, will be looking for a fresh start with a new team. The Reds thought enough of him to give him a $28 million, four-year contract in 2015, following a 25-homer season in 2014, but multiple injuries and the emergence of new starting catcher Tucker Barnhart limited him to 316 plate appearances the last four seasons.
The Mets' top two catchers, Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki, are both injured.
"It's just another quality guy to bring into the clubhouse, and help us at a position that we've been struggling a little bit with since the injuries," said J.P. Ricciardi, the Mets special assistant to the general manager.
Mesoraco struck out as a pinch hitter with a man on base in the ninth inning of his Mets debut Tuesday.
Wheeler and Romano will oppose each other having little experience against the team they're facing. Wheeler hasn't opposed the Reds since beating them 4-3 on Sept. 7, 2014, while Romano is 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 11 innings over two previous starts against the Mets.
Wheeler's last start was a poor one -- he gave up eight runs and 10 hits, including two homers, in six innings of an 8-7 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Friday. The same night, Romano allowed one run on three hits over 5 1/3 innings of a 4-1 Reds win over the Miami Marlins. On Wednesday, he'll try to give the Reds only their second multi-game series win all season.
The Mets were 32-14 at Great American Ball Park before losing Tuesday -- only the fifth win there by the Reds in 20 home games this season. The Mets are 11-6 on the road.