This year, the year of the underdog if you will, both teams looking to take the World Series Championship are home to a fan base used to mediocrity and disappointment. In an exhilarating year of playoffs that has seen many a desperate, likable team falter (looking at you, Blue Jays and Cubs) the trophy will reside in the hands of the villainous Mets who stopped the lovable Cubbies dead in their tracks, or the powerhouse Royals, one of three teams in the majors who have yet to have given out a $60 million contract, who steamrolled through the American League for the better part of the season. That sentence almost doesn’t seem real.
In a year where pitching reigned supreme, the Mets young staff has lived up to the hype. After out dueling Kershaw and Greinke in the NLDS, the young hurlers, consisting of Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, made quick work of the Cubs and currently hold a record of 6-2 with a 2.65 ERA in the postseason. Not to mention, they are some of the hardest throwing starters in the game. The staff has thrown the most pitches over 95 miles per hour this season and more than the Twins have thrown since 2009. Four of the past five teams who led the league in this statistic have made it to the World Series. Still, the Royals have been extremely successful when it comes to hitting hard throwers. They are batting around .292 this year against pitches over 95 MPH.
Yet, the Mets young pitching extends beyond the heat of their fastballs. Over the course of the regular season, batters hit under .200 against all of their secondary pitches combined. A lineup of Salvador Perez, a threat on offense as well as behind the plate, Eric Hosmer, a .297 batter this season who drove in 93 runs, the magical Alcides Escobar, who has been a vital catalyst for the team simply by swinging at the first pitch he sees every game, Lorenzo Cain, a five tool stud who led the team with a .307 average, and DH Kendrys Morales who hit .290 with 22 home runs and 106 RBIs, looks to neutralize this pitching threat.
Unfortunately for the Royals, their starting rotation hasn’t been nearly as consistent throughout the playoffs. While they have been quality starters throughout their careers, Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto have been a bit rocky this postseason with ERAs of 4.32 and 7.88 respectively. Cueto, a well respected starter who has been stellar in the past, has been a big disappointment for Kansas City. He went 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA after being traded to the team and has been hit or miss throughout the playoffs. The Mets, with streaky, powerful bat of Lucas Duda, the always dangerous Yoenis Cespedes, the white hot Daniel Murphy and a host of promising hitters seem poised to capitalize on any of their starters’ mistakes. The Royals’ staff certainly has the potential to have stellar performances. Their consistency just hasn’t been anywhere near the level of the Mets’.
Kansas City, whose talent is almost exclusively homegrown has come up with clutch hit after clutch hit so far this postseason. They have shown time and time again their resiliency as they once again fought their way to the World Series. The Mets on the other hand, fought tooth and nail to get past the Dodgers, but coasted right through the Chicago series, giving them almost a full week of rest. This may not bode well for their momentum. Still, the Mets have a stopper. Actually, they have four of them.
While Kansas City may win most of the positional matchups, the Mets have the ability to stop the Royals’ offense in its track every single game. Both teams will win games. Both teams will have magic moments that seem to defy statistics and perhaps even record books. With four young studs at their disposal, the pressure seems to be on Kansas City to produce at the plate, something they will have to do consistently to make this series competitive. Still, there has to be a winner: Mets in six