Monday, October 26, 2015

World Series 2015 Preview: Mets @ Royals

They say good pitching stops good hitting. The Mets and Kansas City offered great examples of this axiom in the League Championship Series wins over the Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays. Now, it's down to these two, and for the Royals, what better way to mark the 30th anniversary of their lone championship by reaching the pay window again.

If you look at starting pitching, however, the Mets and their Young Guns would have an advantage over Kansas City's veteran starting core, which includes ex-Met Chris Young. The Royals picked up Johnny Cueto from Cincinnati at the trade deadline, but if memory serves, the Mets handled Cueto earlier this season when he was still with the Reds, as the Mets swept the season series from Cincinnati. The only one of the Royals' starters the Mets haven't seen would be Yordano Ventura, because I don't believe he was on the roster when the two teams met in the 2013 regular season (KC won 2 of 3 at Citi Field). Ventura, then, is the x factor for the Royals, and job one for the pitching staff is shutting down NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy and the rest of the offense. Easier said than done.

The Mets will send their Dark Knight, Matt Harvey out in game 1 on Tuesday, followed by 2014 Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in games 2 & 3. Playing in KC takes the bats out of Harvey & deGrom's hands due to the DH, but the Mets now have a deep enough bench where someone like Michael Cuddyer, reduced to a reserve role late in the season due to injuries and the emergence of rookie Michael Conforto, can be plugged in. If Yoenis Cespedes' shoulder isn't 100% on Tuesday, he can be the DH, I would think, and Juan Lagares would play center field. Kansas City returns much of the same crew that fell to San Francisco in last year's Series, mostly a lunchpail bunch who work at bats the same way the Mets do.

The bullpen is the Royals' strength. It's not as deep as it was last year, with Greg Holland on the DL, moving former starter Wade Davis into the closer's role. They saw Mets set-up reliever Tyler Clippard when he was with Oakland earlier in the year, but then, the Mets also picked up Addison Reed (Arizona) as bullpen insurance in August, and closer Jeurys Familia has proven he can go 2 innings to get a save. Familia was almost totally lights out this season, with a team record-tying 43 saves.

I think the Series will go 7 games again, but there will be no anniversary party for Kansas City. To describe the Mets right now requires a quote from one Elwood Blues of Chicago, circa 1980:

The 30th anniversary of the Mets' last title is next year, but I don't see them repeating KC's mistakes in last year's Series. Lucas Duda & David Wright's bats are waking up at the right time. Murphy will pass the baton to either of them, Cespedes will come to life again. Be very afraid, Kansas City. Mets in 7.

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