We are getting closer. The World Series is almost here and months of waiting are almost finished. For the Cubs it has been much longer than that. We all know the story, the curse and the 108 years since the Cubs won the World Series. We also know of the little prediction that is Back to the Future and the bold premonition 30 years ago that the Cubs would win it all in 2015.
Meanwhile, it has not been a walk in the park for the “other” New York team over the last almost 30 years. Remember 1986? Neither do I but that was the last time the Mets won it all. The opportunity to break a streak is near and one of these two teams will be destined for a World Series birth. Let’s take a gander at both teams and see who is most likely to come of the NLCS and face the American League representative in the 2015 World Series.
New York Mets
The Mets hit .244 as a team in 2015 but since the All-Star break they are hitting .257. The boys from Queens finished third in the NL in Home runs (177) and were first in the category since the since the All-Star break. The Mets added Cespedes for the second half of the season and he has been nothing short of incredible. He has 17 home runs, 44 RBI and a .287 average since his addition and entering the post-season.
Lucas Duda also gives the team pop and Daniel Murphy is underrated to say the least. David Wright is a shell of what he once was but he does bring valuable experience to the lineup and clubhouse. The loss of Tejada to injury is a shot since his replacement is not of the same overall caliber.
The Mets were fourth in the NL in team ERA at 3.43. Since the All-Star break the Mets team ERA came in around 3.72. For the Mets you can expect a heavy dose of Matt Harvey (5-2, 2.19 ERA since the All-Star break), Jacob deGrom (5-2, 3.14 ERA since the All-Star break), and Noah Syndergaard (5-3, 3.35 ERA since the All-Star break) in the series.
If a long relief situation presents itself (which it probably will not) the nod would go to the crew in NY with the likes of Colon to take the ball. The bullpens are comparable with the edge going to the Mets with the crew of Familia (43 saves, 1.85 ERA), Clippard, and Reed shoring up a bullpen that is above average and was shielded a bit due to nice starts by the rotation down the stretch.
The Cubs hit .244 as a team in the regular season and only notched a slight improvement to .250 in the second half of the season. The boys from Chicago finished fifth in the NL in Home runs (171). They were second in the home runs since the All-Star break. The Cubs do possess a 40+ stolen base edge over the boys from Queens.
The Cubs are all about the young crop that just do not know they are supposed to be a year or two away from this point. Anthony Rizzo (15 home runs since the All-Star break), Kyle Schwarber (15 home runs since the All-Star break) and Kris Bryant (14 home runs since the All-Star break) are bringing the pain in the middle of the lineup. Sprinkle in a little touch of veteran presence and a manager that knows how to cultivate young talent and things look bright.
The Cubs were third in team ERA at 3.36 during the regular season. Since the All-Star break the Cubs are second at 3.42. The Cubs will counter with Jake Arrieta (12-1, 0.75 ERA since the All-Star break), Jon Lester (7-4, 3.04 ERA since the All-Star break), and Jason Hammel (5-3, 5.10 ERA since the All-Star break).
The Cubs bullpen with the likes of Rondon (30 saves, 1.67 ERA), Motte, and Wood is solid but not earth shattering. However, they are not slouches and have been able to rest during many starts during the second half of the season thanks to some exceptional starting pitching. The veteran presence of Lester with big game playoff and World Series experience cannot be understated when trying to get the most out of a young core.
This should be one heck of a series. You can split angles and corners and reason your way to each team. But when you have the post-season managerial experience that the Cubs have it is hard to discount them. However, the third starter scenario will favor the Mets. There is pop in each lineup and both teams have beaten the two NL favorites to get to the NLCS.
For the Cubs, Jake Arrieta actually looked somewhat human in game five but even that “sub-par” performance was enough to get the win. If that was his clunker and he got it out of the way the Mets might be in trouble. However, Jacob deGrom has looked lights out in the post-season to counter the Arrieta affect.
The Mets had to play a hard fought five game series against the Dodgers while the Cubs ejected the Cardinals. Why does it matter? The Cubs got to reset their rotation and line things up with each pitcher on at least regular rest. The Mets will not get that luxury. It is splitting hairs but that is what this series is. In a series that should go seven games, I will take the Cubs but my confidence in the selection is tempered. I cannot wait to watch this series. I love baseball.