For the Mets, their improbable run spearheaded by young, talented starting pitching, the arrival of Yoenis Cespedes via trade during the season and smokin’ hot bat of Daniel Murphy during the postseason has them playing in the World Series for the first time since 2000. That year, they were beaten by the Yankees in the Subway Series.
Kansas City is playing in the World Series for the second straight year. Last season’s team got in as a Wild Card, surprised at several turns along the way similar to these 2015 Mets, and ended up falling to San Francisco in Game 7 with the game-tying run being 90 feet away.
Here’s how I break down the series . . .
Hitting Edge – Mets (slightly with the footnote that the Royals get timely hits)
Starting Pitching – Mets
Bullpen – Royals
Fielding – Royals
Base Running – Royals
Mets: Murphy has had an outrageous postseason, batting .421 with 7 home runs and 11 RBI. Kansas City has to cool him off and also keep Cespedes in check. Those are the two most dangerous hitters in the New York lineup that can do damage. During the NLCS against the Cubs, they struck early and played from ahead, allowing them to swing the bats with confidence and not press.
Beyond those two, David Wright gives them a veteran who can come up with a key hit in a big spot and same goes for Curtis Granderson, one of three players hitting over .300 for the Mets in the playoffs along with Murphy and Juan Lagares. It’s far from murder’s row, but much better than a year ago when they ranked 28th in the sport in batting average and 27th in slugging.
In the starting pitching, it’s an embarrassment of riches with Matt Harvey (2-0 with a 2.84 ERA in the playoffs), Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz. All were born in 1988 or later and have the type of stuff to control this series if on like they’ve been throughout this postseason. That was seen in sweeping the Cubs, a team they were 0-7 against during the regular season, during the NLCS.
In the bullpen, there are some concerns potentially leading up to closer Jeruys Familia, who was lights out in both in the NLDS and NLCS, especially the Game 5 clincher in the first round against the Dodgers that was a pressurized spot on the road.
Royals: Just like Cespedes was a shot in the arm for the Mets before their run to October, Kansas City got a jolt with the additions of both Ben Zobrist and pitcher Johnny Cueto, an ace when he was in Cincinnati. The Royals are an experienced team, and while they don’t have that singular feared hitter to the quality of Cespedes or even Murphy this postseason, they have a well-rounded lineup.
KC effectively manufactures runs, gets sacrifices, lay the bunts down, do all the little things and intangibles even on the base pads in order to excel. Arguably their most dynamic player is Lorenzo Cain, who enters the World Series having reached base in 15 straight playoff games. Cain was second in the AL in stolen bases and hit a league-high .372 with two outs. Eric Hosmer has been successful in those situations with 67 two-out base knocks.
These Royals are never fazed by a deficit. They came from 7-3 down in the Wild Card game last year against Oakland, then came back to beat the A’s. This season, they were trailing 6-2 in the ALDS in Game 4 at Houston in the eighth inning before rallying. What enables them to erase a deficit and keep it from growing even larger is a steady, sturdy bullpen. Wade Davis at the back end of the pen once was a starter and is money, which he showed in getting out of a first and third jam with nobody out in Game 6 of the ALCS vs. Toronto.
Even though the KC starting pitching may not stack up with the arms at the front end of the rotation for the Mets, they just need Cueto, Yodano Ventura, Edinson Volquez and Chris Young not to get bombed. Keep them in the game and get to Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochevar and Davis in that pen with a chance to win. That would mean advantage Royals.
Pick: Royals in 6. The Mets have been a terrific story, but I feel like the layoff, basically going an entire week since finishing the Cubs off in the NLCS, could have a bit of a negative effect. If the series started a day or two earlier, that might’ve kept with the great momentum they established in the previous series.
KC has been able to come up with late-inning magic in the postseason, both this year and in 2014. The only difference is it’s role reversal to an extent with the Royals being more like the Giants from a year ago and the Mets being the new kid on the block that KC was in that Fall Classic, on an amazing run few expected.
The Royals expected to get back to this spot and have the type of reliable bullpen to hold a lead or mount a charge in what should be a competitive, exciting series with some interesting matchups and strategies playing out.]]>