With the wildcard games already played, the MLB fandom turns its attention to the true start of the postseason, the divisional series. One of these series, in the NLDS, will be between two 90+ game/divisional winners as the New York Mets travel to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the best-of-five series (game one: 9:45pm ET Friday on TBS).
After their best season in over 10 years, the Mets finally booked a return trip to the postseason, their first since winning the NL East back in 2006. In the past 15 years, the Mets have been to the playoffs just three times, winning their division only twice. With a young roster of talented players, especially from the pitching position, the Mets got through a soft and unassuming division with relative ease, defeating the Washington Nationals by a seven game margin.
The Dodgers meanwhile are making a return appearance to the playoffs, their third in the last three years. The Dodgers have easily been the class in the NL West and once again won the division, much like the Mets, largely because of a stellar pitching staff. The difference is that the Dodgers’ staff is playoff tested and playoff proven. They have the experience to facilitate a long postseason run even if that hasn’t been the case in the past few years.
Interestingly enough, the last time the Mets were in the playoffs, 2006, they swept the Dodgers in the divisional series. The last time the Dodgers won the pennant, 1988, was when they, as underdogs, defeated the Mets in the best-of-seven NLCS. So, needless to say, these two teams have their fair share of postseason history.
Dominated by Pitching
Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom (pictured) anchor a Mets starting five that features some of the best arms in the entire game.
Leading the way is second year pitcher, the 27-year-old deGrom. He finished with a 2.54 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, a team-high 14 wins, 205 strikeouts over 191 innings pitched. His lone outing against the Dodgers, deGrom went 7.2 innings shut-out innings, giving up just two hits, while striking out eight.
Behind deGrom is the tandem of Harvey (13 wins, 2.71 ERA, 188 strikeouts) and Syndergaard (nine wins, 3.24 ERA, 166 strikeouts). Both have been huge for the Mets during their title run and both will be looked to in order to come up big, especially since their competition comes in the form of two of the best pitchers this year and in baseball as a whole.
The first of this duo is Clayton Kershaw, who had an incredible year by any other standards, but just a good year for Kershaw. The former MVP and defending CY Young winner led MLB with 301 strikeouts and finished the year with a 16-7 record and impressive 2.13 ERA. Kershaw might have designs on another Cy if it weren’t for his own teammate, Zack Greinke.
Greinke was impossibly good this year, going 19-3 with an MLB-best 1.66 ERA. The All Star game starter, Greinke was by far the best pitcher of the year, doing so in all situations and against all opponents. For the 11-year-veteran, this was a career year and he will look to continue that dominance in the postseason.
All told, this will be Greinke’s fourth time in the last five seasons in the playoffs in which he has pitched 44.2 innings, has struck out 37, and has an ERA of 3.63. Kershaw will be making his fifth appearance since 2008, but the consensus best pitcher of the last five years has not fared so well in the playoffs. Kershaw has pitched 51 inning over the course of 11 games and has allowed 29 runs, has walked 18 and has a career worst 5.12 ERA.
Meanwhile, Harvey, deGrom and Syndergaard are all green, wet behind the ears so to speak. They’ve yet to pitch a single postseason inning, the three of them combined, but they are well rested and should be fresh for the series. So while Kershaw and Greinke have the experience, their playoff outings have left much to be desired. If the Dodgers hope to get far and past the New York trio of arms, they’ll need the regular season versions of their two studs, not the ones who have pitched to a combined 4+ ERA in their careers in the playoffs.
Our Preview’s New York Mets at LA Dodgers Betting Picks
This series is absolutely 100 percent pitcher driven. From the five studs, to the guys in the bullpen, arms are going to be the story and will determine who advances to the NLCS and a matchup with either the St. Louis Cardinals or Chicago Cubs.
The Dodgers have an edge, albeit just a slight one. They have home field advantage, something that has served them well in the past, and they have the advantage of being able to better set up their rotation. Add in their offense, which is loaded from top to bottom and which has incredible depth from midseason trades and the Dodgers look good as gold.
Both teams have a history of lack of success in the playoffs and both have their reasons to doubt. But the Dodgers are just a little better and the Mets are still a little young, Had this series been three years in the future, with more experience and innings logged for the young Mets starters, the outcome might look to be different. As it is however, the Dodgers have the advantage and they should be able to win the series and advance closer toward winning another World Series championship.
Our preview’s verdict is to expect the Dodgers, behind Greinke, to win in game one at home and take the series to go four out of a possible five games. Here is our game one betting pick: