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World Series Preview: Royals (95-67) vs. Mets (90-72)

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The 2015 Major League Baseball season all comes down to this. Its the World Series!

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

At a Glance:

Date

First Pitch

Away Team

Probable Pitcher

Home Team

Probable Pitcher

Tuesday, October 27

5:00 pm

Mets

RHP Matt Harvey

Royals

RHP Edinson Volquez

Wednesday, October 28

5:00 pm

Mets

RHP Jacob deGrom

Royals

RHP Johnny Cueto

Friday, October 30

5:00 pm

Royals

RHP Yordano Ventura

Mets

RHP Noah Syndergaard

Saturday, October 31

5:00 pm

Royals

RHP Chris Young

Mets

LHP Steven Matz

Sunday, November 1*

5:00 pm

Royals

TBD

Mets

TBD

Tuesday, November 3*

5:00 pm

Mets

TBD

Royals

TBD

Wednesday, November 4*

5:00 pm

Mets

TBD

Royals

TBD

*If necessary

Royals

Mets

Edge

Batting (wRC+)

99 (10th in MLB)

99 (12th in MLB)

Royals

Fielding (FanGraphs Defense)

56.9 (1st)

2.3 (17th)

Royals

Starting Pitching (FIP-)

108 (20th)

90 (5th)

Mets

Bullpen (FIP-)

89 (6th)

93 (14th)

Royals

For the second straight year, the Fall Classic begins in Kansas City. The Royals are back in the World Series looking for redemption after losing to the Giants last year. The Mets haven’t appeared in a World Series since the 2000 subway series and they haven’t won a championship since 1986. It’s all come down to this. Here are a few of the narratives and storylines you might already be tired of hearing about:

Expansion Teams: This World Series marks the first time two expansion teams have faced each other. Baseball purists may claim, "There ain’t no history between these two teams!" And everyone else responds, "Shut up and watch baseball."

Young Guns: Before they made the playoffs, there was a bunch of hoopla about the innings count for Matt Harvey and the other young starters on the Mets. Harvey has made two starts in the playoffs already and he’s scheduled to start Game 1 of the World Series. It’s funny how the prospect of a championship makes teams completely rethink their priorities.

A Royal Return: The Royals are returning to the World Series after posting the best record in the American League during the regular season. Either this is vindication for Dayton Moore or maybe it’s just destiny.

The Streak: Daniel Murphy has taken it upon himself to ensure the Mets faithful will see a championship this year. He’s homered in six straight playoff games, hitting dingers off the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Jake Arrieta. But did the long layoff cool off his bat? Will he reach the major league record of eight straight games? Tune in to find out!

The Royals:

The Royals are back in the World Series and they’re better than they were last year. The core of their team hasn’t changed much and they’re still committed to playing their brand of baseball: great defense, a strong bullpen, putting the ball in play, and aggressive base running. They’re looking for their first Championship since 1985 and they’re the odds on favorite to finish it this year.

Key Players

CF Lorenzo Cain – The late bloomer has finally blossomed. His raw talent has finally turned into tangible results. He’s an elite defender in center and he’s become a centerpiece in the Royals’ offense.

3B Mike Moustakas Another late bloomer, Mike Moustakas is finally living up to the hype that made him a top prospect for the Royals. It really comes down to one number: his wOBA on balls hit to the opposite field is .367 this year.

2B Ben Zobrist Acquired from the Athletics before the trade deadline, Ben Zobrist has given the Royals a much needed boost on offense (by simply kicking Omar Infante out of the lineup). He’s lost a step on defense but he posted his best overall offensive line since 2012.

Probable Pitchers

RHP Edinson Volquez

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

200 1/3

18.2%

8.5%

8.0%

46.0%

3.55

3.82

Pitches

Sinker

Changeup

Curveball

94.3 mph;

49.0%

85.2 mph;

25.0%

81.1 mph;

24.1%

Edinson Volquez gets the call in Game 1 for the Royals. As a sinkerballer, he’s hoping that the cold weather and his home park can reign in the powerful Mets offense.

RHP Johnny Cueto

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

212

7.47

1.95

.89

42.5

3.44

3.53

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Cutter

Changeup

Slider

Curveball

93.3 mph;

32.4%

93.0 mph;

18.9%

88.6 mph;

19.8%

84.0 mph;

16.0%

85.0 mph;

9.6%

81.4 mph;

3.4%

Johnny Cueto has been a disaster for the Royals. He’s given up 14 runs in 16 innings this postseason and he’s either suffering through late-season fatigue, or worse, an injury. Right now, their prized trade deadline acquisition is the weakest link on the roster.

RHP Yordano Ventura

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

163 1/3

22.5%

8.4%

11.0%

52.2%

4.08

3.57

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Cutter

Changeup

Curveball

96.9 mph;

37.2%

96.7 mph;

20.7%

92.5 mph;

3.6%

87.9 mph;

14.8%

84.4 mph;

23.8%

A mid-season rough patch from Yordano Ventura is in the rear-view mirror now. He hasn’t been perfect in the playoffs but he’s come through for the Royals when they needed him. He’s making the first start in New York despite a road split that’s decidedly worse than his performance at home.

RHP Chris Young

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

123 1/3

16.6%

8.6%

7.7%

25.5%

3.06

4.52

Pitches

Four-seam

Changeup

Slider

87.1 mph;

58.0%

79.7 mph;

2.0%

80.7 mph;

39.6%

Can we just pause and reflect on Chris Young’s career? Three years ago, he was pitching for the very same team he’ll be facing on Saturday at what looked like the end of an injury plagued career. Fast-forward and he’s made two critical appearances in the playoffs already and will be starting Game 4 of the World Series. Oh, and he’s struck out almost a third of the batters he’s faced in the postseason. When every other starter on either team averages over 93 miles per hour on their fastball, Chris Young proudly stands out of the crowd.

The Mets:

On July 31, the Mets were two games over .500, three games behind the Nationals in the NL East, and were preparing to host the division leaders for a three-game series. The Mets swept the Nationals in the series, took the division lead, and never looked back. While their starting rotation may get all the headlines, they had the best offense in the National League down the stretch and that’s carried over into the playoffs.

Key Players

2B Daniel Murphy Did you know that Daniel Murphy has hit home runs in six straight games and hit seven total in the postseason? Did you know that he only hit 14 home runs during the regular season? Did you know that Daniel Murphy is a dinger-god amongst mere dinger-mortals? What will he do next?!

CF Yoenis Cespedes – Yo knows dingers (though not as well as Daniel Murphy knows dingers). After a last-minute trade from Detroit, Yo flourished under the bright lights in New York. He has mashed since coming to the Mets and he’s been one of the most exciting players to watch this postseason.

RF Curtis Granderson Curtis Granderson enjoyed a career renaissance this year after a disappointing first year with the Mets. He posted his best overall offensive line since 2011 and has been a catalyst atop the Mets’ lineup.

Probable Pitchers

RHP Matt Harvey

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

189 1/3

24.9%

4.9%

9.8%

46.0%

2.71

3.05

Pitches

Four-seam

Changeup

Slider

Curveball

96.5 mph;

60.8%

88.9 mph;

12.2%

90.3 mph;

14.2%

84.4 mph;

12.8%

All that stuff about inning counts and pitch counts all ended up being much ado about nothing. The Mets have tabbed him to start Game 1, a potential Game 5, and possibly a relief role in Game 7. He’s the best pitcher in a rotation that is full of incredible pitchers.

RHP Jacob deGrom

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

191

27.3%

5.1%

9.5%

44.4%

2.54

2.70

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Changeup

Slider

Curveball

95.8 mph;

46.4%

95.4 mph;

15.3%

86.2 mph;

12.6%

90.4 mph;

16.0%

82.3 mph;

9.7%

Harvey might be the best overall talent but Jacob deGrom posted incredible numbers this year. In a normal year (or in the American League), he may have won the Cy Young. As it is, he was just the fifth best starter in the National League, which is light-years ahead of anyone on the Royals.

RHP Noah Syndergaard

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

150

27.5%

5.1%

14.3%

46.5%

3.24

3.25

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Changeup

Slider

Curveball

97.7 mph;

38.0%

97.7 mph;

23.7%

88.8 mph;

14.2%

88.3 mph;

2.1%

81.2 mph;

22.0%

I could have copied and pasted the numbers for these last three starters and no one would have questioned their accuracy. It’s astonishing how close their profiles match, and that should be terrifying for the Royals.

LHP Steven Matz

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

35 2/3

22.8%

6.7%

11.8%

45.5%

2.27

3.61

Pitches

Four-seam

Changeup

Slider

Curveball

94.6 mph;

68.4%

83.7 mph;

9.9%

87.3 mph;

1.9%

77.3 mph;

19.8%

Steven Matz may be the rawest of the Mets’ starters but he’s cut from the same mold: a plus fastball, huge strikeouts totals, a miniscule walk rate, and an average ground ball rate. He’s also the only lefty starter for either team.

***

The 2015 Major League Baseball season all comes down to this. Who are you rooting for?

I think the strength of the Mets’ starting rotation and their hot offense will carry them through—they’ll win it all in six. What are your predictions?