NLDS: Los Angeles vs. New York
DeGrom. Kershaw. Syndergaard. Greinke. Harvey. The 1990s and early 2000s were known as an era where offenses ruled. Well, times have certainly changed. The Mets and Dodgers feature the most pitching rich series this postseason has to offer.
The tale of the tape goes like this: One team’s payroll is almost three times the size of the other, yet their records are almost identical. One team hasn’t been in the postseason in nine years. The other is making their third straight appearance. Can you guess who is who?
Regardless of who you guessed, both the Dodgers and Mets have equally high pressures to win. The deep pocketed Dodgers will look to get back to the World Series for the first time since 1988. The Mets were expected to contend this season, but a division title was viewed as a long shot. They now find themselves opening what should be an epic pitching showcase in Chavez Ravine on Friday night.
Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet, whether he wins the Cy Young or not. He will have to overcome his past postseason demons in order to achieve the ultimate prize. He’s too talented not to right the ship, so the Mets should expect Kershaw on his A-game. He’ll be followed by Zach Greinke, whose sub-2 ERA is the lowest since Bob Gibson in 1968. The Dodgers one-two punch of Kershaw and Greinke is simply the best you’ll find.
As good as the Dodgers 1-2 is, the Mets can counter with all star Jacob Degrom and rookie of the year candidate Noah Syndergaard. Don’t expect many runs to be scored, at least not until the later innings. Both teams have shaky bullpens, so watching the pitch counts for the starters will be interesting. Matt Harvey will get the ball in game three (imagine the hype around that game), as the Dodgers are likely to counter with lefty Brett Anderson, who while not spectacular, turned in a solid season for L.A. These two clubs are quite similar, as this series should not be decided quickly.
Neither of these two teams have any real holes in the lineup. The Dodgers young stars Joc Perderson and Corey Seager will get their first taste of October. Veterans Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Either have a knack for the big hit. Could Chase Utley come back to haunt the Mets one last time? The anguish Mets fans would feel is unmeasurable, and would make for quite the twist in this script.
The Mets will have to figure out how they are to configure their lineup facing a lefty two or three times. Does Curtis Granderson get the start against Kershaw. Does this mean Michael Cuddyer sees more time? How do Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto factor into this equation? Terry Collins has options, but he must choose wisely to best the Dodgers lefties. It’s also worth noting that Yoenis Cespedes has revese splits against left-handed pitching. It won’t affect his playing time, but it may affect his performance.
David Wright has preached all year how important it is not to take the postseason granted, and you can expect the Mets to be ready for the moment. The Dodgers will have great pressure to succeed because of their payroll and past failures. The Mets are still a fairly young team and they’re going to have highs and lows. At the end of the day, Kershaw and Greinke will be a little too much for the Mets aces. This series will serve as the present vs. the future. It will give experience for the young Mets, who will carry great momentum heading into 2016.