Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the World Series has finally arrived. That’s right folks, after 162 games and a month of playoff baseball, the finish line is in sight. The World Series kicks off Tuesday night with the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets facing off in the final series of the season.
Both teams are suffering from a long World Series winless drought. The last time the Royals won the World Series was in 1985 and for the Mets it was in 1986, according to baseball-reference.com. By early next month someone will have to start counting over.
We’re going to look at a few different factors in this preview: each team’s record, the pitching rotation and x-factors. These three areas are a good way to look at each team and to get to know them a little better for those of you who aren’t Mets or Royals fans.
WORLD SERIES PREVIEW:
According to MLB.com, the Royals finished the regular season with an American League best 95-67 record. The Mets finished the regular season with a record of 90-72, but they had the worst record of the three National League division winners.
The Royals have home-field advantage for the World Series because the AL won All-Star Game this year, which is a disadvantage to the Mets going by their splits in the regular seasons and their performance in the NLDS against the Dodgers. Their pitchers weren’t that dominating against L.A. and they had some trouble hitting on the road. By the time they reached the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs, things had settled down and they were able to sweep the series. L.A. was certainly the tougher opponent for the Mets.
They took New York the distance in the NLDS, whereas the Cubs were swept by them in the NLCS. I think that if the matchup had been different, I’d be writing a different article.
The Royals took their ALDS series against the Houston Astros to the full five games but prevailed at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. They had a 2-0 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays before closing the ALCS out in Game 6. That doesn’t mean that the Royals are just going to roll over and allow the Mets to blow right through them though. The Royals have been better on the road and at home than the Mets all season long.
WORLD SERIES ROTATIONS:
The Royals and the Mets have set their rotations for the World Series. There haven’t been any changes for the Mets but there have been for the Royals. The Mets’ rotation is: Matt Harvey Game 1, Jacob deGrom Game 2, Noah Syndergaard Game 3 and Steven Matz in Game 4. The Royals’ rotation is: Edison Volquez Game 1, Johnny Cueto Game 2, Yordano Ventura Game 3 and Chris Young in Game 4.
The Mets have three rookies in their rotation for the Fall Classic whereas the Royals have elected to go with a veteran rotation. The Mets have a philosophy of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” as far as the rotation is concerned and it has suited them just fine.
The Mets’ rotation has consisted of these same four pitchers since the NLDS and these rookies and Harvey — who’s in his second year — have gotten them far this year. While they did get a little dinged up in the NLDS against the Dodgers, the predominantly rookie staff hasn’t given up more than seven runs since Oct. 12, according to MLB.com, and that’s another sign that they’ve settled in.
The Royals’ rotation has given up quite a few runs this postseason. Now, that could be due to the pitchers being on short rest, but this is the postseason, and you’re expected to find another gear. It’s not that they’ve had disastrous outings, but they certainly haven’t been great. The pitching staff owes a lot to the defense behind them and the offensive power that this team has.
Young is the only member of the Royals’ rotation with an ERA below 3.25 this postseason. Compare that with the Mets who have only have one member of their rotation with an ERA above 3.50 this postseason. Just because the Mets’ rookies have been outstanding so far doesn’t mean that they won’t collapse once they hit the World Series, and it doesn’t mean that the Royals’ veterans will find another gear either. All the stats up until now get thrown out the window once the World Series starts. The Fall Classic is the essence of next level baseball and teams and player either have it or they don’t.
WORLD SERIES X-FACTORS:
One of the biggest mistakes that the Mets made recently — and trust me we’ve talked about it a lot here at the Salute offices — is saying publicly that they don’t plan on bringing second baseman/soon to be free-agent/postseason hero Daniel Murphy back next season. That was a stupid move on their part. NBCSports reported on Oct. 19 that Murphy was not in the Mets future plans and there are other news outlets that are reporting this too. Newsday, ESPN,the Daily News and NewJersey.com are also reporting this. There are also rumors that Murphy could sign with the Mets cross-town rivals — the dreaded New York Yankees — according to reports from the Daily News and NewJersey.com.
Here’s why it was stupid. The Mets announced this news in the middle of the series with the Cubs. While it would have been incredibly unprofessional and unlike Murphy to purposefully throw the game, he could have done it. It would have cost him in the next contract that he signed though, especially if it was obvious that he threw the game. He could have put the Mets in a bad spot, but he didn’t because that isn’t the type of player that he is. He’s human though and I’m sure the thought crossed his mind, even if only for a split second.
Another x-factor the Mets have to deal with is the lack of experience in high pressure situations, like the World Series, of the pitching staff. There is a good chance that these rookies and the sophomore pitcher could implode when they take the mound. When you consider that the Royals, as a team, hit .271 in the postseason and the Mets have only hit .235, according to ESPN, it will definitely be something to watch out for.
The Royals have two x-factors to worry about. The first one is how they will be able to handle Murphy because he’s on fire. Depending on the situation that he comes up in, they might be able to pitch around him, but you can’t do that the entire series. They’re going to have to pitch to him and that’s going to be dangerous.
The second x-factor is their own pitching staff, as they have a combined ERA of 4.41, according to ESPN. The Mets have only hit .235 this postseason — like I pointed out earlier — but that doesn’t mean that the team is tame, by any means. This is the same staff that has been roughed up by the Blue Jays recently. This staff is vulnerable, really vulnerable, and the Royals are going to have to be even more solid than they have been if they hope to win their first World Series since 1985.