(SportsNetwork.com) - Ohio-born lefty Jonathon Niese makes his first start of 2014 against his native home state team on Sunday afternoon, when the New York Mets host the Cincinnati Reds in the finale of a three-game series at Citi Field.
Niese was originally scheduled to start on Opening Day for the Mets, but he was plagued with muscle weakness in his throwing shoulder and ultimately wound up on the disabled list with inflammation in his elbow.
He was 13-9 with a 3.40 earned run average last season.
In three starts against the Reds at Citi Field, Niese has dropped all three decisions while the Mets have managed just two runs in support of him.
For Cincinnati, long reliever Alfredo Simon makes a spot start while usual rotation member Mat Latos continues to recover from offseason knee surgery.
Simon has not started a game in the big leagues since September 2011 when he was with the Baltimore Orioles. He is 3-9 with a 5.15 ERA in 19 career starting assignments.
He's spent two seasons as a reliever with the Reds and was 6-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 2013.
In three relief appearances against New York, he's thrown four scoreless innings and allowed no hits.
The Mets moved to the verge of a sweep in dramatic fashion on Saturday, when pinch-hitter Ike Davis hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Mets over the Reds, 6-3.
Holding a 3-2 lead, the Reds sent J.J. Hoover (1-1) to the mound in the ninth. Juan Lagares led off with a walk and made his way for second when Anthony Recker put down a bunt. Lagares was called out on the play, but the call was overturned following a video review. Ruben Tejada walked to load the bases for Davis, who cleared the wall in right.
Cincinnati is 12-7 all time at Citi Field, which included a three-game sweep in 2013 and a 7-3 record there over the past two seasons.