As a Mets fan I’ll be rooting for them to clinch in game, well, 4-5-6-7, it doesn’t matter, just win! The Royals will be a tough matchup though, a team that came so close to winning it all last year. Teams that have swept in the LCS have had little success afterwards, going 1-6 in the World Series. Included in that statistic are the Royals, most likely this fluke statistic results from a small sample size, but it’s still unsettling for Mets fan. Despite having home field advantage Vegas lists both team’s chances at even. Let’s go over the series matchup.
The Royals hitters struck out the fewest times (975) in the MLB and they were the only club to whiff under 1000 times. In contrast to the last team the Mets beat, the Cubs led the majors with over 1500 Ks. The Mets young power pitchers thrive on strikeouts, and while the infield has performed admirably so far in the postseason, the hit to contact Royals will put that defense to the test. On the flip side, the Royals were nearly last in the MLB in walks (380) while the Mets were nearly last in walks (383) issued. So I feel like the Royals will usually have to hit to get on base. Looking at the 2015 Postseason numbers, and I know it’s only a small sample size, but the Royals are beating the Mets across the board in every offensive category. Royals have played 2 more games than the Mets and the Mets played 5 of their 9 games against the top 3 NL Cy Young pitchers, so it makes sense the Royals would have better hitting stats in the postseason. To their credit the Royals played 3 games against the top 2 AL Cy Young pitchers, so it’s not like they’v been feasting on easy pitching matchups. The Royals hitters, especially you Salvador Perez, like to chase balls out of the zone, but it’s been working for them so far.
The Mets have been carried by Daniel Murphy so far, if he continues to hit like he has been then this might not even be a contest. Duda and Wright were showing signs of life in the last Cubs game too, so hopefully that carries over. The Mets haven’t really played from behind the entire postseason, whereas the Royals seem to thrive on making a comeback late. As for the DH, I assume it will be Kelly Johnson, but perhaps the Mets might go with Lagares on the field for better OF defense and let Conforto DH in some of the games. Either way, not sure we will be seeing much from Cuddyer, Nieuwenhuis, or Uribe other than the occasional PH.
G1 – Harvey vs Volquez
G2 – deGrom vs Cueto
G3 – Syndergaard vs Ventura
G4 – Matz vs Young
I feel like the Mets starters have the advantage in every single matchup, though I have some caveats. The Royals have experience pitching in the World Series, but their only starter they retained from last year is Ventura, so I don’t think they have the “experience” advantage here. The Mets have faced some high quality pitchers and have either held their own or have beaten them, and the Royals staff is a step or two down from what the Dodgers could throw in Kershaw and Grienke (x2), and a step or so less than the duo of Lester and Arrieta. When the Mets faced the teams #3-4-5 guys, they hit them pretty well.
Volquez rejuvenated his career last year after acquiring that Pirate pitching magic that turns ordinary #4/5 starters into aces, but then again maybe I’m not giving enough credit to the Royals. This is the same team that turned Ervin Santana’s career around, maybe they just have a knack for excelling with Domincan pitchers? Their top 3 starters are all Domican. Volquez was able to pitch around a terrible situation against the Blue Jays in Game 1. Their “#3” starter earned the right to start as their #1 starter in the World Series.
Cueto hasn’t pitched well since being traded, whether that being from injury or switching to the AL, he hasn’t been an ace. He pitched well against Houston before pitching one of the worst starts in postseason history against the Jays. That was on the road and he’ll pitch at home against the Mets for both games. He’s probably cost himself millions of dollars with the way he’s pitched so far.
Ventura, the Royals version of Syndergaard, had an awful start to his sophomore year. After spending some time down in triple AAA midseason, he had a much better second half reminiscent of his rookie year. His home/road splits are (+0.5) on the road so starting him on the road may help the Mets out. Plus he seems to be a bit of head-case so having a raucous NY crowd may help get him off kilter.
Ex-Met Chris Young’s home/road splits are much better on the road (-1.0), but if the Mets can’t beat Chris Young then they have bigger problems. Ex-Met Justin Turner almost eliminated the Mets in the NLDS, so Chris Young just needs to channel his inner revenge level of play.
As for the Mets, well their numbers have been pretty spectacular. Harvey & deGrom’s home/road splits are (+1.0) on the road, but deGrom has won 3 games on the road, and maybe Harvey won’t be so over-amped by starting on the road. Thor’s is (+2.0) on the road, although his numbers seemed to finally normalize his splits in his last couple starts, and Matz’s is (+0.5) on the road. Having the Rookies start at home should help their nerves, and if the Met starters can get through that first inning than I think they should be able to sail through the rest of the game. Although after the 7th inning the Royals seem to hit like super humans. If the Mets can keep the bridge from SP to Famalia as short as possible then they have a clear advantage.
The Royals are one of the better (if not the best) fielding teams in baseball. They have good team speed, stealing over 100 bases (Top 5) to the Mets 50 (2nd to last). Weirdly enough, the Mets have a higher SB success rate in the playoffs than the Royals and only 1 less SB. The Royals will be sure to test d’Arnaud’s arm while the Mets will have a tough time against the stingy Royal catcher. They also have some quality pinch runners on the bench, something the Mets lack. Right now the Met bench is :
Righties – Cuddyer, Lagares, Uribe
Lefties – Johnson, Nieuwenhuis
Uribe made the roster, but he certainly won’t be bringing his speed to help the team. There are zero lefty starters on the Royals squad, Uribe hits better against lefties, and their main bullpen arms are also right-handed. I would have considered added Eric Young Jr. to the roster, he would give them a SB threat off the bench. The Mets are carrying 2 RPs that haven’t seen much, if any, action in Gilmartin (LHP) and Robles (RHP). Not sure it’s worth carrying either, and I wouldn’t feel confident putting them in the World Series. If Robles comes into the game its usually garbage time, so couldn’t Niese handle those innings instead? Why plan around garbage time? Every moment counts in the World Series, it seems silly yo carry 2 pitchers that probably will never be used when a viable SB could be needed. Familia, Clippard, Reed, Colon, and any other Met SP should be the only guys given the ball.
The bullpen matchup is pretty interesting with Familia vs Davis, two guys you don’t want to be facing late in the game. The main Royals relief core consists of Herrera, Madson, and Hochevar, and collectively they’re probably better than the Mets bullpen of Reed + Clippard and a surprisingly effective Colon. I don’t believe the gap is that large however.
C – d’Arnaud vs Perez – Even
Perez and d’Aranaud have pretty identical throw out rates and both have the occasional pop, plus their postseason batting stats look identical. I think d’Arnaud has done a good job calling games, framing pitchers, but maybe the umps just had a wide strike zone.
1B – Duda vs Hosmer – Royals
If the Big Lebowski shows up, then Mets have the advantage. When Duda gets hot there aren’t too many batters better than him, but when he’s cold the exact opposite is true. Hosmer is an all-around quality player and the safe bet would be on Hosmer.
2B – Murphy vs Zobrist – Mets
If “Babe Ruth” Murphy continues to do what he’s done so far this postseason, then no one is better than him. He’s hit 6 HRs in 6 consecutive games, so now his name will live on in the record books forever. If he keeps hitting like this I’ll name my sons Daniel and Murphy. Zobrist is a solid #2 hitter who will draw a walk, unlike many of the other Royals, and has hit very well for this team in the postseason, but Murphy is on another level.
3B – Wright vs Moustakas – Even
Both 3rd baseman have struggled somewhat, but both have had their moments and play solid defense. Both are beloved fan favorites, Moose and the Captain, but I don’t think there’s too much of a difference between the to in terms of hitting or fielding right now.
SS – Flores vs Alcides – Royals
Alcides just won the ALCS MVP and apparently every time he swings at the first pitch the Royals win, so he gets the nod here. Flores has had some special moments for the Mets and seems to be our good luck charm. He wouldn’t even be starting if Chase Utley didn’t tackle Ruben Tejada, and now with Matt Reynolds off the playoff roster the Mets essentially have no backup SS. deGrom and Lagares were both former SS so if Flores gets taken out, God forbid, we’ll could see some interesting fielding changes. I have a gut feeling that Flores will be the deciding factor in this series. His story seems to have come straight from Hollywood this year.
LF – Conforto vs Gordon – Royals
Gold Glove Gordon in LF and a pretty decent hitter to boot. The numbers don’t show it, but Conforto has hit some balls hard, just right at people. The problem with this OF is that they still catch hard hit balls not hit to them.
CF – Cespedes vs Cain – Royals
Cain is a Gold Glove CF’er and the Royals MVP candidate, he’ll probably finish 3rd in the MVP vote. Cespedes is recovering from a sore shoulder, claims he’s ready to go, but I’d take a healthy Lorenzo over Cespedes in the World Series most times.
RF – Granderson vs Rios – Mets
Grandy really has been the Met MVP all year long from the lead-off spot. He’s hit well against everyone in the postseason and if it weren’t for Murphy playing like a God then people would be talking about Grandy. Rios has a much better arm than Granderson, but I’ll take the Grandyman’s bat over Rios most times.
DH – Johnson vs Morales – Royals
Both professional hitters, but Morales hits better. He’s been a big part of the Royals lineup all year and I’ll be happy that he won’t start for 3 games when he comes to Citifield.
Starting Pitching – Mets
I hope all 4 horseman keep it going; the numbers say that the Mets have the better starters going into it and this is their one clear advantage over the Royals. They need their big 4 to pitch like they have all season. The Royals just need to keep the Mets from hitting HRs, most balls in play will get vacuumed by this defense.
Middle Relief – Royals
The Mets have the crafty and hugely entertaining Colon, but I would still say the Royals have the advantage here. I probably trust Addison Reed more than Clippard, but Terry doesn’t feel that way. Clippard has been shaky for a while now, but Ryan Madson did almost blow it for the Royals in Game 6 vs the Blue Jays. Kelvin Herrera has done well per usual though.
Closers – Even.
Both are capable of going more than an inning if needed. Wade Davis stranded a man on 2nd and 3rd to close out the ALCS. Famalia has been untouchable in the postseason. I wouldn’t expect either guy to blow the lead and the game’s as good as over when these two come in.
Bench – Even.
Mets have better hitters, but Royals have better speed. Depends on the situation really.
Managers – Even
Their moves may not always be supported by statistics, but they believe in their guys and they’ve led their team to atop of their respective divisions. I think both these guys have the full respect and love from their players and that’s something that’s always underrated in the media.
Let’s Go Mets !!