NEW YORK -- This week's three-game series between New York and Cincinnati will be about the enticing battles between Reds first baseman Joey Votto, the most scholarly hitter in the game, and Mets pitchers Noah Syndergaard, who regularly throws 99 mph fastballs, and Jacob deGrom, who is authoring perhaps the most dominant hard-luck season of all time.
But for a little while Monday afternoon, Matt Harvey will ensure, one more time, that it's all about him at Citi Field.
Harvey will make his return to the city and the stadium he once owned on Monday, when the Reds visit the Mets for the series opener.
Syndergaard (6-2, 2.98 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Cincinnati's Homer Bailey (1-8, 5.87 ERA) in a duel of right-handers.
Harvey, who allowed five runs in four innings and took the loss as the Reds fell 6-2 to the Nationals on Saturday, isn't scheduled to pitch during the series.
But for better or for worse, the one-time Mets ace is still a newsmaker in the Big Apple, where he was the city's most eligible bachelor and fastest-rising sports star between 2012 and 2015, during which he was 25-18 with a 2.53 ERA while helping New York to the National League pennant in 2015.
Those days are long gone for Harvey, who battled several injuries and self-created off-field drama while going 9-19 with a 5.93 ERA from the start of 2016 until he was designated for assignment by the Mets on May 4. The Reds acquired him four days later in exchange for Devin Mesoraco, who has shared time at catcher for New York since the trade.
But Harvey still carries himself like the ace who dictates how business is conducted around him. Harvey, who had a contentious relationship with the local media during his final few seasons in New York, elected to hold his return press conference in the Reds' dugout on Monday at the same time that Mets manager Mickey Callaway holds his pregame press conference.
Harvey has been throwing harder -- he was recently clocked at 98 mph -- and been better for the Reds (5-5 with a 4.79 ERA in 15 starts), though rebuilding Cincinnati could not find a deal for him before the July 31 trade deadline. He can still be traded this month if he clears waivers.
On Saturday, Harvey said he was frustrated with his inconsistent performance but pleased to finally feel healthy. Harvey, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2013, had surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome in 2016 and missed almost two months last year with a shoulder injury.
"It's been an up-and-down roller coaster, but I'm healthy," Harvey told reporters. "That's the biggest thing, I think. It's been a long time since I've been healthy."
Syndergaard and Bailey are both rounding into form after their seasons were interrupted by health issues. Syndergaard returned from his second stint on the disabled list last Wednesday, when he took the loss after allowing three runs in seven innings as the Mets fell to the Nationals, 5-3.
It was only the third start since May 26 for Syndergaard, who missed seven weeks because of a strained tendon in his right index finger and was then sidelined again after two starts for hand, foot and mouth disease. Callaway said Sunday that he expected Syndergaard to be able to handle a regular workload Monday.
"He should be pretty much normal," Callaway said. "I'd be comfortable sending him out there for 110 pitches."
Bailey will make his third start since returning from a nearly two-month stint on the disabled list with right knee inflammation. He took a complete game loss last Tuesday after giving up two runs in eight innings as the Reds fell to the Detroit Tigers, 2-1.
Syndergaard is 3-0 with a 1.98 ERA in four starts against the Reds.
Bailey is 1-5 with a 7.22 ERA in seven starts against the Mets. It is his highest ERA against any team he has opposed more than two times.