METS VS. ROYALS: A WORLD SERIES PREVIEW by Tom Brennan
All teams in the playoffs present a challenge. The KC Royals are a very good 95 win team. They’ve won two playoff series to get the World Series. Very good.
So were the Dodgers. So were the Cubs.
Both of those teams, already very good, overweighted their playoff games started by their 2 aces. Normally, they’d have started 40% of their teams’ games. Against the Mets, they started 2/3 of the 9 games the Mets have played so far. Despite that distortion, the Mets won 7 of 9. The Mets of August to present, like the Mets of 1969 from August to finish, are really good.
My pick to win ALL THE MARBLES? Mets over Royals in 6.
Actually, I think it could be 5 games, but the gate receipts for at least one more game will come in handy when re-signing Murphy and Cespedes.
Some writers like to go position by position.
I will just do it by just 4 categories, starters, relievers, infield, outfield.
1. STARTING PITCHING
METS: Similar to the Dodgers and Cubs, at playoff time, the Mets eliminate the starters that helped limit us to 90 wins this season: no Dillon Gee, no John Niese. Even no Bartolo Colon, who was pretty decent as a starter in 2015.
Those 3 had a combined ERA of a substandard 4.30, and were just 23-26. What we’re left with to start our playoff games is the big 4: Jake deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Steve Matz. All outstanding, all ready.
The youngsters (Thor and Matz) are both ready to dazzle: Matz perhaps less so, because he had so few starts and the injuries did not allow him to accelerate by season’s end to where he would have been otherwise. However, Matz has enough starts under his belt, and enough veteran composure, to excel as well.
Syndergaard, the 100 MPH man, is emulating Doc Gooden circa 1984 at season’s end. Gooden went from splendid with a few growing pains in his first 150 innings, to flat out spectacular after the 150 innings mark in 1984. Thor is doing a repeat of that Doc stretch. Spectacular. On a par now with deGrom and Harvey.
Oh yeah, before I forget - deGrom and Harvey? Simply, two of the top pitchers in baseball, both well rested by the series start.
Those 4 aces combined for 40-23, 583 regular season innings, a WHIP of about 1.05, 593 Ks, and an ERA of about 2.70. In the 9 playoff games, even better. In the World Series, expect dominance from them.
ROYALS: They had 10 pitchers start games in 2015. The best of all of them was former Met Chris Young (11-6, 3.06), followed by Edison Volquez at 13-9, 3.55. Their starters are inferior to what the Dodgers and Cubs threw at the Mets.
Huge advantage in starting pitching, Mets.
2. RELIEF PITCHING
ROYALS: Over a full season, the KC pen was strong and generally superior to the Mets’ pen. Wade Davis was terrific with a 0.94 ERA, 17 saves, 8-1 record, 0.79 WHIP, and more than a K per inning. Outstanding reliever Greg Holland saw his ERA spike to 3.84 in 2015 after 3 of his previous 4 seasons having ERAs well under 2.00. But Holland still saved 32 of 37. Flame-throwing Kelvin Herrera, hard-throwing Ryan Madsen, Luke Hochevar, and lefty Franklin Morales round out the key members of a very fine pen.
METS: Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson did a lot of tap dancing with a pen that had several key injuries, and at times early in the season looked ready to crumble. Yet with late-season acquisitions, plus the superb and improving closer for the Mets in place in Jeurys Familia, the pen ended up far stronger at season’s end than it was most of the season. Addision Reed was a superb late season pick up, Tyler Clippard was great until late in the season and is a bit suspect right now but a gamer, hard-throwing Hansel Robles can be used in a limited spot, and starters-turned-playoff-relievers Bartolo Colon and Jonathan Niese makes the Mets pen almost the equal of the Royals’ pen. With the Mets’ superior starters, the KC slight pen advantage is further minimized. I’d rate the two bullpens essentially even, for those reasons.
METS: The Mets have, in catcher Travis d’Arnaud, 1B Lucas Duda, SS Wilmer Flores, and 3B Captain David Wright a solid foursome. They also have the surreal Daniel Murphy at 2B, currently the best player on this or any other planet. Utility guys are solid in Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, and also available for use as needed is Michael Cuddyer, and so it is an above-average infield contingent with the bat, and an average one with the glove.
ROYALS: Infield edge goes to KC. But not by a lot. The combo of 1B Eric Hosmer, 2B Ben Zobrist, SS Alex Escobar, 3B Mike Moustakas, and catcher Salvador Perez is a very strong one, with a combined average of about .280 with solid run production, power, and speed. Them boys is good.
METS: The Mets trotted out a bunch of under-performing minor leaguers early in the season, both in the outfield and in the infield. Alderson made a gargantuan improvement in the outfield when he added Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline, and further spiked the quality of the outfield with the accelerated debut of Michael Conforto. Curtis Granderson proved to be the consummate lead off man, getting on base, hitting with power, and running adroitly. Gold glover Juan Lagares and veteran Michael Cuddyer (plus, if needed, Kirk Nieuwenhuis) give the Mets a clearly above average outfield.
ROYALS: Lorenzo Cain had a super season, and he and part-time super-speedster Jarod Dyson stole a combined 54 of 63 bases, so they can wreak havoc with their speed. Messrs. Gordon, Rios, and Orlando give them 3 more solid outfielders. Close, but I give the outfield edge to the Mets.
In the infield, outfield, and bullpen, the two teams are evenly matched.
The Mets, however, have the lethal rotation, quite a large advantage over KC.
Given the inordinate impact that an elite rotation can have in a series, I believe (as noted) that the Mets win the World Series in 6 games, perhaps 5 games.