2015 ALCS & NLCS
Royals in 6
Both of these teams have come back from the dead in their respective division series. The Toronto Blue Jays lost the first two games at home and needed to win the next two games in Texas, while the Kansas City Royals down two games to one were down 6-2 in the eighth inning of Game 4 in Houston. Things looked so bleak for the Royals that Texas Governor Greg Abbott had sent a congratulatory tweet to the Astros for winning the series. The Blue Jays meanwhile found their power in the Lone Star State won two games in Arlington and then returned home to finish off the Rangers with Jose Bautista’s three run blast and subsequent bat toss.
The two teams are a battle of contrasts, the Blue Jays win by bludgeoning the ball, behind the best offense in all of baseball. The Royals meanwhile are more flexible they have some power in the lineup but rely more on speed and small ball to win games. Traditionally in the postseason it is teams like Kansas City they are more likely to find success. The Royals last year used that formula to make it all the way to Game 7 of the World Series. While the Royals do have more power this year than last season with Kendrys Morales leading the way in the middle of the order, they are still at their best when Lorenzo Cain gets on base and creates havoc in the lead off spot.
The Royals have the clear pitching advantage as the Blue Jays will need David Price to end his October struggles if they are to have a chance in this series. Price is 2-6 in his career during the postseason, with an ERA of 5.04. In two appearances in the Division Series, David Price posted an ERA of 7.20, despite winning Game 4 after entering the game with a 7-1 with two outs in the fifth. Marcus Stroman pitched well in his two starts, but after pitching Game 5 against Houston won’t be able to pitch until Game 3. Meanwhile the Royals after a strong Game 5 performance by Johnny Cueto, think he is finally on track after struggling after being acquired at the trade deadline from Cincinnati. The Royals also have the advantage with a more reliable bullpen that even without Greg Holland at the back end is good at protecting leads.
The Blue Jays did win the season series 4-3 against the Royals, with each team winning their series at home, as Toronto sparked by the deadline deals began their season turnaround against the Royals at Rogers Centre winning three of four as July became August. There is only one way the Blue Jays can win this series and that is for their hitters to be so hot that nobody on Kansas City can touch them. With his epic bat flip, Jose Bautista looks locked in and so does Troy Tulowitzki whose, big Game 3 performance in Arlington got the Division series turned around. If Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion get hot the Jays will be hard to beat.
In the end I like the Royals in this series, they were here last year and have the home field edge in the series. However, with the pitching edge in the Royals court and their ability to win games with their speed and defense, the Jays power will just come up a little short.
Wade Davis Royals
Mets in 6
Get used to seeing these two teams in the National League Championship Series, as both the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs are loaded with young talent that should dominate the league for the next five years.
The Mets do it with young pitching as they are four talented young arms led by Jacob deGrom who beat Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the NLDS. Matt Harvey in his return from Tommy John surgery won 13 games, and while there is some concern with his work load, he has shown flashes of the pitcher he was before the surgery and soon will again. Steven Matz is a talented young lefty, who would be at the front of some rotations, is the fourth best pitcher of this group as Noah Syndegaard nicknamed Thor brings the thunder with a fastball often topping 100 miles per hour. The Mets middle relief can be spotty at times, with Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed leading the way. However, Jeurys Familia in the closer role has been perfect, retiring all 16 Dodgers he faced in the Division Series. The Mets long relief is also solid with the ageless Bartolo Colon being ready at moment’s notice, along with Jon Niese, a lefty that won nine games this season.
The Cubs future meanwhile is built around young powerful bats. That power was on display for Chicago as they hit a record 12 home runs to knock off the 100-win Cardinals in the Division Series. One of those bats Addison Russell will not be available for the Cubs in the NLCS as he is out with a hamstring injury. However, it is rookies Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber that are the Cubs most dangerous hitters. Bryant the hands down favorite for Rookie of the Year may have struggled in the NLDS, but Schwarber is the hottest hitter in October, with four postseason homers so far, none of which were cheap.
The Mets hitting is streaky, as David Wright and Lucas Duda struggled against the Dodgers. However, when you face Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke four times in five games anybody can look bad and just winning is enough. The Mets most dangerous hitter is Yoenis Cespedes who had two homers in the NLDS, while the hottest hitter is Daniel Murphy who nearly single handedly beat L.A. in Game 5, accounting for all three runs with both power and hustle.
The Cubs pitching meanwhile has been nearly as solid as the Mets as Jake Arrieta has been the best pitcher in baseball since the All-Star break with a 0.41 ERA in the final two months of the regular season. However, in the NLDS he was ordinary and if he is not able to match the Mets young guns the Cubs could be in trouble.
Most intangibles seems to favor the Cubs, with the Mets losing all seven regular season matchups against Chicago. However, the Mets are a far different team now with all seven games being played before the July 4th. David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud missed all seven games with injuries. The Mets had not yet acquired Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto was in the minors, and the Mets bench looked like a team of minor league rejects. Five of the six games were decided by two runs or less, with one game being scoreless after nine innings. This time things will be different and the Cubs despite and prophecy of McFly are still the Cubs. Mets, helped by the home field edges in the series with timely hitting, keep the Cubs bats at bay and reach the World Series for the fifth time in team history.