On paper, it’s hard not to think the New York Mets won’t cap this miracle season with a World Series championship.
After all, baseball, especially playoff baseball, is all about pitching. And the Mets have a ton of it, starting with ace Matt Harvey, who starts Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Edinson Volquez gets the start for the Royals.
While the Royals have plenty of pitching of their own, all the talk and eyes are on the Mets’ four horsemen – Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.
When the playoffs started, it was hard to not look at this rotation and think it had championship caliber.
The Mets, who last went to the World Series in 2000, are trying to win it for the first time since 1986.
But the Royals, who haven’t won a World Series since 1985, are different; they’re the favorites, and they should be. The Royals have an all-around great team. They pitch, catch the ball and get timely hits. It’s a winning formula.
Plus, the Royals have been here before, losing in seven games in the World Series a year ago to the San Francisco Giants.
The Royals’ mission is to win it this time and when you look at their club on face value, it’s hard not to think they won’t get the job done.
As was the case last season, the Royals – who have won 18 of their 26 postseason games over the past two seasons – will have the home field advantage. Kauffman Stadium and those fans provide incredible energy.
And while the Mets’ arms were able to silence the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs, the Royals are a tough, fastball-hitting club. The Royals are the majors’ best hitters against pitches 95 mph or better and that’s what Mets’ pitchers offer – heat. This season, the Royals also had the highest contact rate (81.9%). Mets pitchers are strikeout-pitchers. It’s a huge contrast.
In addition, the Royals are the comeback kids and can explode for bunches of runs in the postseason. It’s something you normally don’t see in the Fall because pitching is so good.
In Game 2 of the ALCS, we saw the Royals score five runs in the seventh inning. Facing elimination against the Houston Astros in Game 4 on the road, the Royals scored seven runs in the final two innings to force a Game 5, which they ended up winning.
In the postseason, Kansas City is averaging 5.7 runs a game.
The Mets’ offense, no doubt, is a lot better than it was around the All-Star break when it was averaging 3.5 runs a game. One of the main reasons why the Mets are here and not sitting at home is the unbelievable power of second baseman Daniel Murphy. He has hit a home run in a playoff-record six consecutive games.
If you’re a Mets fan, that’s both great and scary. It just seems to be impossible for Murphy to continue such an amazing streak.
The Royals’ plan will be to stop Murphy and not let him beat them. How will the Mets react when Murphy is held homerless or goes 0-for-4?
Plus, Yoenis Cespedes hasn’t been the stud at the plate in the playoffs like he was when he was traded to the Mets from the Detroit Tigers at the trade deadline. Even worse, Cespedes injured his left shoulder in the NLCS against the Cubs and isn’t 100 percent healthy. That’s not good for the Mets.
That’s why the Mets’ pitching has to be A-1. It has to be lights out.
So far, it has been. The team’s starters are 6-2 with a 2.65 ERA in nine playoff starts, holding opponents to a collective .217 batting average.
Mets’ closer Jeurys Familia has been a monster, not allowing a run in his 9 2/3 innings of work in the postseason.
On the other hand, the Royals’ bullpen is tremendous and gives them the ability to only need their starters for five or six innings.
Luke Hochevar, Kevlin Herrera and closer Wade Davis have combined to allow just one earned run in 21 postseason innings for a stingy 0.43 ERA. In the process, they struck out 28 and walked just six.
Yes, they are lights out. That’s why the Royals are so tough to beat.
PARKER’S PREDICTION – Royals take the Series over the Mets in six games.