It is 2,430 regular season and 31 playoff games later and we’re finally at the zenith of the 2015 MLB season. The winners of their respective division pennants, the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals meet in the World Series, looking for the ultimate prize, their first championship in just about 30 years (Game one, 8pm ET Tuesday on Fox).
For the Mets, this journey goes back to 1986 when New York defeated the Boston Red Sox in an incredible seven game series. New York fell behind two games to none before falling behind three games to two later in the series. This led to game six and the infamous Bill Buckner error that allowed New York to come back victorious in the must-win game, and win again in game seven.
For the Royals, the road to the World Series title goes back just a year prior, in 1985. Just like the Mets, Kansas City needed a full seven games to emerge victorious over the St. Louis Cardinals. Also like New York, the Royals fell behind two games to none and three games to one before sweeping the remaining three contests en route to their first and so far only World Series in franchise history.
These two teams have never met in the playoffs, in fact, they have barely met at all. In the last 20 years, since the inception of interleague play, only the Chicago White Sox have played the Mets less. In all, the teams have met a total of nine times over three series and three separate seasons (2002, 2004, 2013), with the Royals barely edging the series five games to four.
Overall, these two teams have a lot in common, even if they don’t know it or one another very well. Both feature young, hungry squads ready to end a prolonged title drought. Both are dominated by pitching, be it the starting rotation for the Mets or the bullpen for the Royals. Both also have emerged as two of the premier teams in baseball.
The oddsmakers make it a close call, with both 5Dimes and Intertops sportsbooks going -115 the Mets and -105 the Royals in the outright World Series winner betting odds market. SportsBetting.ag makes it slightly more one-sided at -121 Mets and +101 Royals for the series. We give our betting pick prediction at the end of this preview. This is going to be a great series between two teams you should expect to see a lot of in the near future.
Kansas City the Latest in a Series of Teams to give that “Déjà vu” Feeling
In a surprise season, the Royals emerged last year as postseason Cinderellas. They made it all the way to the World Series only for the clock to strike midnight in yet another game seven, against the eventual winning San Francisco Giants. For the Royals, getting back to this stage for the second time in as many years is a chance for redemption.
Since 2000, four teams (Yankees 00-01, Phillies 08-09, Rangers 10-11, Royals 14-15) have reached back-to-back World Series. Not a single one of them has won both of their appearances. However, in the Royals’ favor, only the Rangers have failed to win both.
Of those teams, both the Phillies and Yankees won their first match-up and lost the second. So if the Royals do manage to avoid the curse of the Rangers and win in 2015, they’ll become the first team to go to back-to-back championships, lose the first and win the second since the Oakland Athletics back in 1988-89.
Daniel Murphy – The Newest Mr. October
It’s quite weird to hear anyone other than the great Reggie Jackson, especially a Met, referred to as a new Mr. October, but when the accolade is bestowed from the original himself, it’s a compliment that is hard to ignore.
Like Jackson, Daniel Murphy (pictured) has put his New York team on his back during the entire postseason and has been a huge part of why the Mets have gotten this far. Murphy tied the record set by former Met and Royal, Carlos Beltran by hitting a home run in five straight postseason games. In the NLCS, he broke the record, by hitting number six in game four of the sweep over the Chicago Cubs. Murphy, who has 16 hits in 38 at bats, 11 runs and 11 RBI, will be looking for home run number seven in game one against the Royals.
Royals Bullpen vs Mets Starting Pitchers
To avoid reiterating the obvious and what I’ve said in countless previews when discussing the Mets in the past, their starting staff is good, like really good. Honestly, they are better than they should be. Not a single member of the young rotation is over 27 years old and not a single one of them had any postseason experience before this year. And yet, not a single one of them has faltered. Overall, they lead all 10 postseason teams with a 2.81 ERA. Matt Harvey, the projected game one starter, has a 2.84 ERA and 16 strikeouts in just over 12 innings. The oldest of the quartet, Jacob deGrom, has been even better. He is 3-0 with 27 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched. He has an ERA of just 1.80.
And while Kansas City can’t quite match the Mets in terms of starting staff, the Royals’ biggest strength is in a top of the line bullpen which has been pretty unhittable. Leading the way is closer Wade Davis, who has made three saves in five total appearances and has yet to give up a run. Kelvin Herrera has been just as good, pitching in 8.2 innings and striking out 16 while posting a 1.04 ERA.
Simply put, the best chance for the Mets hitters is going to be early on. The Royals have been able to use their own offense to come back late in games when needed but if they have a lead before the seventh inning, it’s almost a surefire thing they are going to win the game. As for New York, if they have a lead after seven, they are in pretty good shape, but their bullpen isn’t as bulletproof. If the Royals hope to score, their best chance would come in the later innings.
Our Preview’s New York Mets vs Kansas City Royals World Series Betting Pick
There are a lot of things to consider as these two young teams go head-to-head. Will the Mets starters finally lose steam or are they in the middle of an unprecedented run at history? Will Kansas City get their redemption or are they doomed to repeat the past? Will the series manage to last seven games or will the Mets, or Royals shock with a sweep?
I don’t have the answers and the series itself will dictate them. But based on what we do know about the teams, the players, the histories, etc, I’m advising for my pick to take the Mets in six. There is just something about that starting staff that is the stuff of legend, the stuff that writes championship scripts.