Many of the main contributors of the 2015 New York Mets have little or no postseason experience, but will it help or hurt their cause?
By Greg Cambareri
The New York Mets will play in the NLDS for the first time in nine years. While hopes remain high that they have the roster to make a deep October run, consider this: many of the players on this roster have little or zero playoff experience. Their opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers, will be making their third consecutive postseason run. History tells us that this may, or may not matter.
The Mets are built on their young, fireballing rotation. Whether they have home field or not, they will face two types of pressure. Scenario number one sees them playing at home, with the pressure to produce in front of the home town crowd. Scenario number two sees them playing in what’s sure to be a hostile Chavez Ravine in southern California. Oh, and facing off against Cy Young hopefuls Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke will only ease the tension, won’t it?
So, does prior playoff experience actually matter? Let’s ask the 2014 Kansas City Royals, whose first postseason trip in almost 30 years resulted in falling one inning shy of a title. Yes, this Mets team may be young but they’ve played their share of high intensity games already. Their three game road sweep of the Washington Nationals just a few weeks ago had the drama of a playoff series. Veterans Curtis Grandson, Michael Cuddyer, Bartolo Colon, and David Wright will undoubtedly provide wisdom for the youth that has not yet lived on a stage this big.
Remember the last Mets team to make the playoffs? Of course you do, as the heavily favored 2006 squad fell a game short of the World Series. A large part of that team was built on David Wright and Jose Reyes, whose talent, not postseason experience helped take them deep into October. Carlos Delgado was arguably the best player during that postseason trip and ’06 was his first playoff run in 14 years as a major leaguer. Carlos Beltran, who was known for his October heroics, faltered in his biggest moment (no one needs to be reminded of how that went down). Although the ’06 team fell short of their ultimate goal, they made a serious run at winning the whole thing with a group that had little prior playoff experience.
The Mets will surely be happy to be in the NLDS, but they won’t be satisfied with an early exit. As for their opponent? They have much greater expectations. The Dodgers possess the league’s highest payroll of over $300 million dollars, and have not reached the World Series since 1988. Additionally, Kershaw is regarded by many as the best at his possession, yet he’s allowed 18 runs over his last 22.2 postseason innings. As much hype is there is around the Mets “Big Four” of Harvey, Degrom, Syndergaard, and Matz, no one has more on their shoulders than Kershaw. What the Mets lack in experience, they may benefit from in their opponent’s middling October reputation.
While postseason regulars like the St. Louis Cardinals, seem to rule October, history tells us that there’s no reason why this young Mets team can’t challenge for the ultimate prize.
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