It took both teams 5 games, including a clinching road victory, but they are now here. The New York Mets and the Chicago Cubs have advanced to the National League Championship Series. The Cubbies are a year ahead of schedule under first year manager Joe Maddon and young key players in Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber. The Mets have rode their young aces all season long, with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey.
Theo Epstein is a genius. Whether it be hiring Joe Maddon to be the next Cubs manager, going out and overpaying for Jon Lester, or keeping Kris Bryant down in the minors to begin the season, he pushed all of the right buttons. The Cubs have the NL Rookie of the Year in Bryant and have the NL CY Young award winner in Jake Arrieta. Did the Orioles ever think he would be this good? Arrieta was the best pitcher in all of baseball, and had a once in a lifetime second half of the season with the type of numbers he put up. Since the break, he’s struck out 113 batters in 107 1/3 innings while issuing just 22 unintentional walks and allowing two homers. Over that same span, opposing hitters have managed a paltry line of .148/.204/.205.
For the Mets, it has been all about the pitching. Harvey, deGrom, Thor, Matz, and Colon. And thanks to a couple of late deadline trades, the Mets acquired the hottest hitter in all of baseball in Yoenis Cespedes. Adding his bat to the lineup was a huge lift for New York. That and the addition of the face of the franchise in David Wright, Mets manager Terry Collins could do no wrong. In last nights ALDS clinching victory, Collins brought in Syndergaard for the 7th inning after deGrom went 6 strong, and then Jeurys Familia for his first ever six out save.
These two teams met seven times during the regular season with the Cubs winning all seven. Should Mets fans be worried? Absolutely not. It was reported yesterday that Cubs shortstop Addison Russell would miss the entire series with a hamstring injury. The Cubs have a solid one two punch in the front of their rotation, but it is important to keep an eye on the Mets power pitching versus the strong Cubbies bats. Power versus power. Here is a good chance of what the pitching match ups will be. This could all change if one team is up 2-0 or 3-1.
Just remember, John Mayberry Jr. was batting clean up for the Mets at the beginning of the season!