New York City has a high case of Mets fever and rightfully so. The team has captured the imagination of the town as they prepare for their first World Series appearance in 15 years.
The storylines are endless: Terry Collins in his long quest to guide a winner, David Wright’s long journey back to October baseball, the outstanding efforts of the young stud starting pitchers, and, oh yes, a guy by the name of Murphy delivering a postseason performance for the ages.
It’s a very likable group that has Mets fans finally believing that 2015 might actually be their year!
However, I have a warning for all of the giddy Met fans out there at the moment. Yes, the Mets are rolling, yes they have a great chance to win the World Series, but do not under any circumstances underestimate the Kansas City Royals.
The Royals were one game away from winning the World Series a season ago. They’re a hungry baseball team with unfinished business after falling one game short of a championship a season ago.
The Royals have been doubted quite a bit over the last two years, and I’m as guilty as anyone. I should’ve learned my lesson after last postseason.
A lot of folks going into the season did not believe the Kansas city Royals could duplicate their 2014 success. Most baseball prognosticators predicted the Royals to be a losing team in 2015.
Big mistake. Kansas City not only made the postseason, they had the best record in the American League.
Here’s what you need to know about the Royals: they’re no fluke, they’re a really good baseball team. They’re hard nosed, gritty and they have this never-say-die attitude that is very admirable.
This series to me is the definition of a flat-out tossup.
Mets v. Royals
The six-day layoff scares me from a Mets perspective. The Mets were hot as can be against the Cubbies in the NLCS, but not seeing live pitching for six days in game situations could be costly early in this series.
I expect the Mets big bats of Murphy, Cespedes and Granderson to do their thing, but if there’s an X-Factor it’s Lucas Duda, who delivered a brilliant performance in the Game 4 clincher against the Cubbies.
The Mets will need his power against the righty-laden Royals pitching staff.
I like the Royals lineup quite a bit. It’s not reliant on the home run and they can beat you a variety of different ways.
The lineup is deep one through eight, with two All-Stars in Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez batting 7th and 8th respectively.
They’ll also look to run like crazy in this series. They’ll go first to third on the bases, they’ll test the outfield arms of the Mets and they’ll test catcher Travis d’Arnaud’s arm in a way that no team has thus far here in the postseason.
Advantage: Royals STARTING PITCHING
There is no debate. There is no argument. The Mets starting pitching is the biggest edge they have over Kansas City in this series. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergard will be an absolute handful.
The hope for the Mets is that those three can channel their inner Madison Bumgarner, the postseason hero for the Giants against these same Royals in the World Series a year ago.
If you are a Mets fan, you want to see these three studs in the game as long as possible. The best-case scenario is seeing the starting pitcher hand the ball over to Familia in the 9th inning.
For Kansas City, the objective of their four starting pitchers is to keep their team in the game. The rotation is not their strength, but Edison Volquez, Johnny Cueto and Yordano Ventura have the ability to dominate a game.
Advantage: Mets BULLPEN
The Mets have watched Jeurys Familia develop into one of the best closers in baseball. He’s been lights out throughout this postseason, but the underbelly of the Mets bullpen leaves a lot to be desired.
Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed and the rest of the gang have a chance to be exposed here in this series against the gritty Royals. I have my doubts about their ability to get big outs at the end of these games.
For the Royals, the bullpen is their biggest strength. It’s not as good as it was a season ago with closer Greg Holland on the disabled list, but the one-two punch in Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis ranks amongst baseball’s best.
In addition to that dynamic duo, Ryan Madson, Luke Hochevar and Danny Duffy provide quality depth in the middle innings.
When the Royals hand the ball to their bullpen with a lead, they feel the game is over. On the flip side, the Mets want to avoid their bullpen like the plague unless of course it’s their closer, Familia.
This series is awfully tough to pick. It’s a flat-out coin flip. The Kansas City Royals have experience playing in the World Series, they feel 2015 is their year, their lineup is relentless and they have a lockdown bullpen.
I hate picking against the Mets dominant starting pitching because it has a chance to take over the series, but every other aspect has me leaning towards the Royals.
Experience, unfinished business and home field advantage is good enough for me. Sorry Mets fans, it’s been an unbelievable ride, but I think ultimately the Royals will “Take The Crown.”
JJ’S PICK: ROYALS IN 7 JJ’s Week 8 Unlocks of the Week
(SEASON RECORD: 17-16-2)
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