The World Series begins tonight, and it is a contrast of opposites. You have the pitching-dominated young fire-ballers hailing from the biggest city in the country against the offensive-minded small-market Kansas City Royals. You have the Mets who have been riding the power bat of Daniel Murphy in the playoffs and Yoenis Cespedes in the entire second half of the season, and you have the bunt-em-over, get-em-in Ned Yost’ers from the American League – a counter-intuitive stereotyping of the teams from the respective leagues to say the least.
Last year, the Royals were these Mets. A team that had long been downtrodden (the Royals for a decade or so longer) that arrived on the scene early, riding some hot bats and young, powerful arms. This year, the Mets are the Royals and then some. As well as the Royals pitched last year in the postseason, much of that fire-balling dominance came from the bullpen. The Mets bring it to your face from the very first pitch whether it is Harvey, Syndergaard or deGrom. It will be interesting to see how the Royals fare against them the series after the Mets held the Cubs to a postseason record low .166 batting average.
The series price was listed as a pick ‘em this morning, making the Mets are really good value in my estimation. I don’t place a lot of stock on the benefit of ‘having been there before’ as it just doesn’t seem to matter in the randomness of baseball. In the NBA and NFL there is a real history of playoff “reps” being of tremendous value. In baseball? Give me the heat of young power arms, and the Mets have them in abundance. Add in the uncertainty of Johnny Cueto’s performance (they have to get two good starts in a row out of him, something he hasn’t done in months) and the often erratic nature of Ventura and it is really hard not to take the Mets. Sure, Daniel Murphy will cool off (my favorite prop bet – Murphy UNDER 1.5 homeruns) but there are a host of other big hitters like Cespedes, Duda and Wright who can pick up where he eventually leaves off. I’ll take the Mets in six.
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Today Free Pick:
New York Mets -106 at Kansas City Royals +104 (Total: 7) — World Series Game One
Matt Harvey vs. Edinson Volquez
Let’s start with the two most obvious basics at play tonight. The Mets have the marked starting pitching advantage, despite the fact Volquez has been good lately. The Royals have the decisive home field advantage, despite the fact the Mets are racking up road wins in the postseason.
So what gives in the all-important Game One of the World Series?
The Royals came oh-so-tantalizingly close to winning the World Series last year, and oddly, I think that puts the pressure more squarely on them this series. THEY are the team that was supposed to get back. They are the team with some sense of mortality. The Mets? They are playing with house money. No one picked them to even get to the postseason but their young pitching arrived in a major way ahead of schedule. But even as recently as July, their dreadful offense was the worst in the National League. Enter Yoenis Cespedes and a little Fall magic. Since his arrival, their offense has been the BEST in the National League (in the non-Coors Field division) and they have given their dominant pitching more than enough run support to make a real run. I think that offense will get to Volquez tonight for two or three runs. And I think that’ll be enough for a rested Matt Harvey to hand the ball to the pen with a lead.
This series, to me, will hinge mightily on the Mets bullpen. The Royals bullpen is dominant, but their starting pitching is vulnerable. It’s quite likely the Mets pen will be given more than a few leads this series. If they can hold the rope, they win the trophy. If they can’t, it is unfair to expect the Mets to score enough runs off the Royals pen to bail them out.
I’m not in love with the Mets relief, but I think they do just enough in this series, and tonight, to get the Mets a win.