And then there were two. The Kansas City Royals have advanced to the World Series for the second consecutive season and will play the New York Mets.
The Royals, whose 2014 season came to an end in a Game 7 World Series loss to the San Francisco Giants, finished the regular season with the best record in the American League. They defeated the Blue Jays in six games in the ALCS to claim the pennant.
For the Mets, it’s their first pennant since 2000 when they went on to lose the World Series against the Yankees. They dominated the Chicago Cubs en route to a four game sweep in the NLCS. The Mets, behind a Babe Ruth-esque performance from Daniel Murphy and stellar starting pitching, outscored the Cubs 18 to 8 to advance.
Murphy, who will likely depart from the Mets as a free agent following this season, is certainly earning himself a hefty new contract. He is hitting .421 throughout his first career postseason and has slugged seven home runs in just nine games. One more home run would tie Murphy with Barry Bonds, Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltran for the most home runs in a single postseason.
Murphy broke the record for consecutive games with a home run in the 8th inning of Game 4 when he deposited a Fernando Rodney fastball into the right field bleachers at Wrigley Field. It was his sixth straight game leaving the yard. He’s putting together one of the greatest postseasons of all-time and will look to lead the Mets to their third World Series trophy in franchise history.
For the Mets, their pitching has been spectacular. Jacob deGrom is 3-0 in the postseason with all three wins coming on the road, which ties the record for the most road wins in a single postseason. Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard have combined for 25.2 innings, allowing just eight earned runs.
The Mets postseason pitching staff has combined for a 2.74 ERA, lowest of all teams. Although their starters have been great, closer Jeurys Familia has been better. He’s thrown 9.2 innings, allowing zero runs while allowing a stingy four base runners. He has shut the door for five saves thus far, securing the Mets all-time postseason saves record along the way.
World Series Preview
Look for the radar guns to be lit up in this 2015 World Series, as both the Mets and Royals pitching staffs are littered with flame-throwers. The Mets, 5,643 pitches, and Royals, 4,237 pitches, were the top two teams in total pitches thrown at 95+miles per hour.
For the Mets to win this series, they are going to have to stay aggressive on the base paths. They’ve stolen nine bases through nine games in the postseason, including the first of Wilmer Flores’ career, showing the aggressive nature of this ball club.
Speed has been the success of the Royals, who stole bases regularly en route to the 2014 World Series. Their speed was on display in the clinching game of the ALCS, when Lorenzo Cain scored the game-winning run in the 8th inning from first base on an Eric Hosmer single.
It will also be critical for the Mets to jump on the Royals’ starting pitching, as their bullpen of Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis is lights out. The Royals are 156-4 (.975 winning percentage) when leading after 7 innings since the beginning of 2014. Mounting a comeback against the Royals pen will not be easy.
Lucas Duda will be a critical player for the Mets. All season long he’s been such a streaky player, either extremely hot or extremely cold. He had been struggling all postseason until a breakout game in the clincher versus the Cubs. He greeted Chicago in the first inning of Game 4 with a three run homer, before driving in two more runs for a total of five RBI. If he can carry that performance into the World Series, it adds another intimidating dimension to the lineup.
Prediction: Mets in 5.
A long World Series drought will be broken. The Royals have not won since 1985, and the Mets are championship-less since 1986. The baseball world is just four wins away from a 2015 champion, and immortality for one team and one city.