29 years ago today, I sat in the upper deck at Shea Stadium as the Mets won Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. At the time, I thought it was the start of a dynasty. Instead, it's been the only title for the Mets in 46 seasons. And the only other time the Mets got to the World Series since then, it was something I tried to forget after the Mets lost the Yankees in five games. Now the Mets have a chance to create new memories, and spare Squawker Lisa from hearing so much about 1986.
I'm saying Mets in six because of their big advantage in starting pitching. While the Met starters have been blowing people away, Royals starters have been shaky at best. Johnny Cueto allowed eight earned runs in just two innings in his last start in the ALCS. He also allowed four earned runs in his first start in the ALDS. Cueto pitched well in his other postseason start, beating the Astros in the deciding ALDS game five, but that's still two lousy starts out of three. Combine that with his regular-season ERA of 4.76 in 13 games as a Royal (after a 2.62 ERA in 19 game with the Reds) and one has to wonder if the injury-prone Cueto is hurt again.
Edinson Volquez also has two mediocre postseason starts sandwiched around one good one. Yordano Ventura has also had just one good postseason start this year.
The Royals were able to win two playoff series despite having a starters' ERA of 5.56 because they had a lower overall ERA in each series thanks to their 2.85 postseason ERA. In 41 innings, the Royals pen has 59 strikeouts.
Met starters need to significantly outpitch the Royal starters because the Mets don't want to let the bullpens decide these games. Wade Davis is even better than Jeurys Familia, and the Royals' setup men are much better than their Met counterparts.
On the hitting side, Daniel Murphy is not going to keep hitting a home run in every game, especially after a layoff, but the Mets have had others consistently step up during this postseason, especially when they are not facing an ace. But while the Royals hitting does not seem imposing, they seem to constantly find ways to win, as when Lorenzo Cain scored the game-winning run from first on a single in the final ALCS game.
The Mets would seem to have a good chance of putting a couple of games out of reach early against the Royals' starters. The Mets scored in the first inning in all four NLCS games, including three runs in Game 2 and four runs in Game 4. So even if the Royals' bullpen, great defense, low strikeout totals from their hitters and overall scrappy play could make most of the games tossups, the Met starters should provide the decisive edge to enable to Mets to win in six. Let's Go Mets!