By: Monte Perez
This is not your father’s National League Championship Series. The Chicago Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series since 1908, defeated (the New England Patriots of the National League) the St. Louis Cardinals…3 games to 1. The New York Mets, who haven’t won a World Series since 1986, defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers…3 games to 2. Matt Harvey will face off against Jon Lester in Game 1 Saturday Night at Citi Field. The Cubs were 7-0 against the Mets this year. But most experts would agree that New York has been a different team since the All-Star Break.
The Mets pitching staff should have an edge here. Harvey, Jacob Degrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz grew up quickly against the Dodgers. They faced adversity and should be better for it. deGrom didn’t have his best stuff in Game 5 but he battled through it. He got out of almost every jam and for all his struggles he only gave up 2 runs. Harvey didn’t pitch well at all in Game 3 but the Mets lambasted the Dodgers Pitching staff with 13 runs.
Curtis Granderson is batting .389 in this postseason. He has really been a great leadoff hitter all season long and it has carried into the playoffs. Baseball is a team sport, but if there ever was a player who single handedly won a Game 5 it was Daniel Murphy. Not only did Murphy hit the game winning homerun but he made a great base running play when he stole 3rd as the Dodgers were playing a shift. During the season, Murphy made numerous bonehead plays, but in Game 5 he was the smartest player on the field. I know Jeurys Familia is the Mets Most Valuable Player but Murphy is the heart and soul of this team. He leads the Mets in Homeruns, RBI’s and Total Bases. He is a gamer and the Mets must re-sign him at the end of the season.
You know you are having an amazing year when your ERA in the playoffs is 2.45 and it’s considered a few bad starts. Jake Arrieta should win the CY Young award. He was 22-6 during the regular season with 1.77 ERA he had 236 strikeouts in 229 innings pitched. When he is pitching with confidence he is almost unhittable. The Cubs on offense are filled with young talent. Anthony Rizzo (26 years old) had 31 Homeruns and 101 RBI’s. Kris Bryant (23 Years old) has been everything the Cubs had hoped for. He had 26 Homeruns and 99 RBI’s in his first season. Bryant has struggled in the post-season (3 for 20) but that type of power can come alive during any game.
I have been critical of Terry Collins all year. His managerial skills have left me puzzled at times. But, almost every move he made during the Dodgers series have worked. I wanted him to play Micheal Conforto more during the series but Juan Lagares is leading the team in hitting with a .429 batting average. Now, Conforto will get his chance, The Cubs only have one left handed scheduled starter in Jon Lester. I thought he should have left Syndergaard for another inning in Game 5 but Familia came in and shut them down in the 8th and 9th.
Cubs Manager, Joe Maddon is on another level. He totally outclassed St. Louis Manager Mike Matheny in the first round series and Matheny is a great skipper. Maddon called for two suicide squeeze plays and manufactured runs. His teams never beat themselves and are always fundamentally sound. This is a huge advantage for the Cubs. As the competition gets better managers have bigger impact. They can make critical moves to decide these close one run games. Maddon will win at least one game in this series based on the moves he makes.
Travis d’Arnaud, Lucas Duda and David Wright are a combined 6 for 53. Duda and Wright can carry a team for a series but they both look lost at the plate. I wouldn’t say that Matz and Harvey pitched Ugly games but they definitely struggled. I would be stunned if Harvey doesn’t pitch an absolute gem in Game 1 at Citi Field. Former Mets great Keith Hernandez brought up a great point regarding this series. When the games go to Wrigley field, if the wind is blowing in, the Mets pitchers could make the Cubs young hitters look ugly. If the wind is blowing out, the Cubs batters could make the Mets young pitchers look ugly.
Get used to this match up fans. The Mets young pitchers and the Cubs young hitters should dominate their divisions for the next 5 years. Both team are built for the future but winning now. Maddon will dominate the manager match up and be a step ahead of Collins but I think the Mets can beat the Cubs in a hitter dual 8-7 or pitching matchup 2-1. Pitching always wins in the post season and no one has more depth and talent than New York. I like the Mets in this series to win in 6 games. It is a 2-3-2 format, so the Mets should close it out, Saturday October 24th at Citi Field.
The last 6 Teams to win the World Series have not made the playoffs the year before. This is a trend that bodes well for the Mets.
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