Bronson Arroyo is back in town as Mets host Reds

Update: The Mets just posted their lineup for tonight, so here’s that…

Looks like pretty standard stuff. Remember, no designated hitter tonight since we’re back in the National League.

Yes, that’s Wilson Valdez in center field. Drew Stubbs has been out with an oblique strain since June 5, and his replacement Chris Heisey just injured his groin, but the Reds have opted to leave both players on the active roster. That means we get to find out if Valdez can actually play center. I certainly wasn’t aware that he could.

Original Post: There’s something comforting about Bronson Arroyo pitching against the Mets. In today’s age of roster turnover and guys switching leagues, Arroyo is now in his seventh straight season of eating innings for the Cincinnati Reds.

I’m trying to figure out if he’s pitched against the Mets in each of those seasons, but Baseball-Reference is asking for money and I’m not in the mood to pay for inane statistics.

Anyway, it does SEEM like Arroyo has pitched against the Mets every year since 2006, and now here he comes again. The dude is crazy consistent. He pitched 200+ innings in every season from 2005 to 2010 and then last year he failed and only pitched 199. Always solid, but never spectacular, Arroyo is the type of rock that every team wishes to have in its rotation.

The Mets thought Mike Pelfrey was going to be that guy, but he was often ineffective, and then when it finally looked like he had figured things out, he hit the disabled list this season. Such is baseball.

This season, Arroyo’s strikeouts are up (6.28 per nine) and his walks are down (1.18 per nine), which has made him a bit more effective than normal. However, it’s too soon to assume that he’s made some major change to himself and that this isn’t just some blip on the radar.

Arroyo is a flyball pitcher, so you have to give him credit for maintaining sanity in Great American Ballpark. Pretty much for his whole career, Arroyo has thrown his fastball less than 50% of the time, but this season he’s down to a career low 30.6%, while his slider, cutter and curveball are seeing a lot more action.

For the Mets, it’ll be Dillon Gee taking the hill. He’s been pretty good lately, with five straight quality starts. Even though his ERA doesn’t show it yet, Gee has been a much better pitcher this season compared to last, with improvements in strikeout rate (8.15 per nine), walk rate (2.56) and groundball rate (54.5%). Despite the increase in groundballs, many of the flyballs that Gee allows are sailing out of the park, and that has been the main issue for him this season.

Thanks to the advent of the unbalanced schedule, the Reds usually only make one trip to Queens each season, but this year is special for some reason. Cincinnati has already visited Citi Field on May 16 and 17, but they’re back again for three more games this weekend. The Mets finally go to Cincy in mid-August to make for a total of eight games between the too squads that once played for the 1973 National League pennant.

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