NLCS Preview: Chicago Cubs versus New York Mets
The Chicago Cubs have a chance to exorcise one more demon in their quest to win the World Series. The summer of 1969 produced a Cubs teams that was on it’s way to a pennant, until the New York Mets went on a run and overtook the Cubs. While few if any of the Cubs or Mets players were even born then, it is still another headline to talk about. However, it will be the players on the field that will win this series. Here is a breakdown of the series.
Starting pitching: Edge Mets
The Mets have as many as six frontline starting pitchers (well five, Zach Wheeler is hurt). With Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard as the teams starters in the NLDS, the Mets have fantastic arms. Bartolo Colon is another option for the Mets, who can pitch in long relief or start. The Cubs only have two true postseason starters, in Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. Kyle Hendricks and Jason Hammel will likely pitch, but the bullpen will be heavily involved in those games which is not a good thing for the Cubs.
Relief pitching: Edge Even
Neither teams bullpen is lights out, although New York’s pen has a solid 1-2 punch at the back-end in Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia. If the Mets starters can go deep, it will make the bullpen less relevant. The Cubs are a team that uses their bullpen a lot, and don’t be surprised if they use a lot of different pitchers in most games. When a manager does that, it seems as though one or two of those pitchers can have an off night. The Cubs don’t have much room for error on the mound considering the rotation they are facing.
Power: Edge Cubs
The Cubs hit ten home runs in the NLDS, however the pitching they will face in this series will be much tougher. The Mets have Yoenis Cespedes, who has got hot in the second half of the season. However, half the Cubs lineup is hot right now with their power stroke. I think the Cubs have the edge in power, however it will be interesting to see how they match up against the power arms of the Mets.
Contact/Speed: Edge Even
While the Cubs are more of an all or nothing team, neither team is built in a contact manner. The Cubs may be a faster team, however they will strike out at a higher rate. Each team relies on timely hitting and home runs as much as anything.
Looking at this series, the key is one area; starting pitching. It is 80% of the game, and a team as deep as the Mets is tough to beat in October. The Cubs have a chance in this series, but keep in mind it will not be warm in New York for Games One and Two, therefore the ball won’t fly. While conditions at Wrigley for Games 3-5 are to be determined, it will be tough regardless with deGrom among others on the mound. Pitching will likely dominate this series, especially with some of the starters I have listed above. I think for the Cubs to win Hendricks and Hammel need to pitch well, if not the Cubs are in trouble.
Prediction: Mets in six games.