By MITCH WEAVER
For baseball fans, this week kicked off the most exciting time of the year: the World Series.
While most people had a Washington Nationals vs. Seattle Mariners World Series tabbed in spring training, this week shows that predictions hardly ever come true when the season is all said and done.
Tuesday night the other New York team traveled to the Midwest for a series against the reigning American League Champions. The Mets lost to the Royals 5-4 in extra innings.
The New York Mets vs. the Kansas City Royals: who would have predicted that matchup? Certainly not me.
The Mets, led by their young stable of pitchers, are taking on the most balanced team in the majors. It’s a series full of young talent, feel-good stories and very good baseball. Here are a few things I’ll be watching during the series:
1. The Mets Pitching — The 2015 Mets look very similar to the 2010 San Francisco Giants: a team with just enough hitting, led by an incredible, young pitching staff.
With a staff headed by Matt Harvey, Jacob de Grom, Noah (Thor) Syndergaard and Steven Matz, the Amazin’s look to this staff to do what Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner did for the Giants in 2010.
I’m intrigued to see how the young arms do against the most balanced lineup in baseball since Kansas City makes a ton of contact and plays lots of small-ball.
2. Johnny Cueto — The Royals realized at midseason that in order to compete in October they were in need of an ace.
Thus they picked up Cueto from the Cincinnati Reds. However, Cueto has been underwhelming at best.
With an ERA hovering around five since the trade, the Royals are desperate for Cueto to provide some kind of return. His brilliance in the ALDS did not translate in the ALCS, so the Royals are hoping he can shimmy his way to a win.
3. Daniel Murphy – A player who has been described as the most ordinary player in the M.L.B. has somehow managed to morph himself into Babe Ruth during these playoffs.
Murphy is currently riding a M.L.B. record of six straight postseason games with a home run into the Fall Classic. The NLCS MVP, Murphy hit .529 with four home runs to take down the Cubbies, so the Mets are certainly hoping for an encore performance against the Royals.
4. David Wright and Terry Collins — The man often called Captain America David Wright is back in the postseason for the first time since 2006 after many years of solid production for mediocre Mets’s teams.
However, this season was the toughest of all for him, as he managed to play only 38 games due to spinal stenosis.
He’s back and invigorated for his first trip to the World Series, so look for him to play like his hair is on fire. Terry Collins is also making his first trip to the World Series, but the difference here is that Collins is 66 years old. As a baseball lifer, he is finally on the precipice of his dream.
5. The Royals Young Core — Comprised of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakes, Sal Perez, Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar, the heart of the Royals lineup still feels the pain of losing the World Series last season in seven games with the tying run on third base.
They have been clutch this postseason, and they have created the most balanced relentless attack in all of baseball.
After taking down Toronto’s offensive juggernaut they feel like they can beat anyone.
Now, time for my predictions. The Mets are employing a pitching staff in the order of Harvey, de Grom, Syndergaard and Matz.
I think the Royals’s ability to make hard contact, rather than rely on the home run, has the ability to beat the power pitching of the Mets.
However, the Mets look more like a team of destiny at this point. I’ll go with the Mets in six games, with MVP honors going to de Grom.