By: Monte Perez
The Kansas City Royals will host Game 1 of the World Series against the New York Mets Tuesday Night at Kauffman Stadium. The Canadian singer, Abel Makkonen Tesfaye better known as “The Weekend” had a hit single a few months back titled, “Earned It” That is exactly what the Royals and Mets have done. Both teams have earned the right to play in October. Kansas City was the number 1 seed in the American league and defeated the Houston Astros (3 Games to 2) and the Toronto Blue Jays (4 games to 2). The Mets won their division and defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers (3 to 2) and swept the Chicago Cubs (4-0). If this series were movie it would be Rocky. The Mets are the power puncher (Rocky Balboa) and the Royals are the skilled athletic boxer (Apollo Creed).
Pitching: The Mets have the makings of the one of the greatest pitching staffs of all-time. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard have been lights out in this post-season. This is no surprised to me. During a crucial series against the Washington Nationals late in July, Harvey deGrom and Syndergaard helped the Mets sweep the Nats in a three game series. “The young guns” struck out 25 Washington batters and walked only 1. The Mets as a staff, are 7-2 in the post season with a .281 ERA. They have stuck out 91 batters in 9 games and have only walked 22. Closer Jeurys Familia has been Mariano Rivera like. He is 5 for 5 in save opportunities this post-season, he has not allowed an earned run and opposing batters are hitting .065 against him. The Mets pitching staff has outdueled Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester and possibly Cy Young Award Winner Jake Arrieta. The Royals don’t have anyone on that level on their pitching staff. What they do have is probably the best relievers in the history of the game. If the Mets trail after 6 innings, you can “Put it in the Books” as New York broadcaster Howie Rose says. It is almost impossible for a team to come from behind against Kansas City late in games.
Hitting: The Kansas City Royals are hitting .271 this post-season. Normally when you face elite pitchers in the playoffs your team batting average goes down. Not in Kansas City, their team batting average is up from the regular season (.269). Most experts would say that the Royals play small ball, they manufacture runs and make productive outs. That is all true but they are second in the post-season with 15 home runs. They can beat you several ways offensively. For the Mets, Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson have carried New York on their backs. Murphy set the MLB record for hitting a home run in 6 consecutive games and Granderson is batting .303 and has walked 5 times in 9 games. The casual fan might be shocked to know that the Mets are also leading the post-season in stolen bases. The Mets were last in the National League during the regular season with 51 stolen bases on the year. They have 9 in 9 games heading into the World Series.
Intangibles: This Kansas City Royals team is about as fundamentally sound as a team can be. They field well and they are constantly putting pressures on pitchers and fielders. They will work the count on Mets pitchers and New York’s outfielders will be tested every inning. No team in baseball is more aggressive on the base paths. The Royals will stretch a single to a double and go from first to third on a base hit constantly.
Prediction: The Rule of thumb in baseball is… great pitching will always beat power hitting in the playoffs. The question here is can the Mets pitchers beat contact hitters. Most experts give the hitting advantage to the Royals but the Mets have 5 or 6 players in their lineup who can carry a team for a series. Lucas Duda struggled through the first two rounds and in Game 4 against the Cubs his bat came alive and had 5 RBIs. I still believe rookie Michael Conforto will have a huge impact in the playoffs. In order for the Royals to win they will have to beat Harvey, Syndergaard, deGrom. I don’t see all three of those pitchers losing a game. The Royals will have to get to the Mets starters and force New York to use their bullpen early in games. If they do, Bartolo Colon has been dominate as a reliever, teams are batting .167 against him. I like the Mets to win this series in 5-6 games. This Mets team is young, exciting and fun to watch. In July I wrote that this is the first year in the Mets Dynasty. It will not be easy but when the Mets win the World Series they would have thoroughly “Earned It”
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