keyboard_arrow_uptop

The Royals are two wins away from not being forced to settle for second place in back-to-back years. On to the always critical Game Three—hmm, perhaps every game in the postseason is critical, huh?

Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura) at New York Mets (Noah Syndergaard) 8:00 p.m. Eastern

PECOTA odds of winning: 69% Mets, 31% Royals

Projected Starting Lineups

Royals vs Syndergaard (R)

Mets vs Ventura (R)

Alcides Escobar (R) SS

Curtis Granderson (L) RF

Ben Zobrist (S) 2B

David Wright (R) 3B

Lorenzo Cain (R) CF

Daniel Murphy (L) 2B

Eric Hosmer (L) 1B

Yoenis Cespedes (R) CF

Mike Moustakas (L) 3B

Lucas Duda (L) 1B

Salvador Perez (R) C

Travis d’Arnaud (R) C

Alex Gordon (L) LF

Michael Conforto (L) LF

Alex Rios (R) RF

Wilmer Flores (R) SS

Yordano Ventura (R) P

Noah Syndergaard (L) P

Injuries/Availability:

After a marathon Game One, the key pieces in both bullpens should be well rested following Thursday’s off day and a Game Two in which the Royals rode Johnny Cueto’s strong start for nine innings and the Mets avoided using Jeurys Familia for only the second time this postseason. Still, two questions that lingered prior to both games remain: the true condition of Juan Uribe and his bruised back, and the status of Ben Zobrist and his very pregnant wife. However, it seems there’s a little more clarity on the latter now that the series is moving to New York. The fact that he’s not a quick trip away from his wife means that unless it’s an emergency, Zobrist isn’t likely to leave his team at a moment’s notice during the World Series.

Yoenis Cespedes injured his shoulder in Game Four of the NLCS (doing pushups?), and while it’s just two games, one has to wonder how healthy he currently is after a poor performance at the plate thus far.

Outlook:

After a so-so start in the NLDS, Noah Syndergaard helped close out the Dodgers with a strong inning of relief in Game Five. Two days later he put the Cubs in a 2-0 hole by shutting down their big bats with pinpoint control of his fastball, which still touched the upper 90s despite pitching on a cold and windy evening in Gotham. Syndergaard takes the ball as the series heads to Citi Field and will have his hands full with a Royals offense that’s gotten a lot of love for its ability to hit extreme velocity and make contact at such a high rate. It’s deserved, and proved to be quite important in this series, especially in a four-run fifth inning in Game Two that saw the Royals single their way from a one-run deficit to a three-run lead.

However, the difference in the series has been the Mets complete inability to hit, especially for power. After slugging .363 in the first half of the season, a Mets team that was transformed via trades and health slugged an NL-leading .443 in the second half. In the first two rounds of the playoffs, New York had strong performances from a few bats, but in particular Cespedes in the NLDS and Daniel Murphy in both. The two accounted for much of their over-the-fence power, delivering nine of the teams 14 home runs. In two World Series games (one of which went 14 innings) the two have combined to go 3-for-19 with zero extra-base hits.

And yes, the inning that got things going for the Royals in Game Two was a singles-fest, but that’s not what this team has done this postseason. After posting an ISO of .144 in the regular season (21st in baseball), Kansas City posted a .201 and .159 ISO in the ALDS and ALCS, respectively. Sure, they’re going to drive pitchers crazy by fouling pitches off, rarely striking out (after an MLB-best 15.9 percent strikeout rate in the regular season, the Royals have topped that by striking out just 10 times in 97 plate appearances this World Series), and putting so many balls in play, but like they did last postseason, this group comes to slug in October. Alex Gordon kept Game One going an extra five innings because he was able to do just that.

It’s also important to note that New York had its closer on the mound—who entered the game with 9 2/3 scoreless postseason innings—and was two outs away from a 1-0 series lead; it’s not as if Terry Collins’ club has been utterly dominated for two games. But the Mets now face an uphill climb, and if they—despite having just one extra-base hit against the Royals, a fifth-inning solo homer from Curtis Granderson in Game One—want to get back in this series, their key bats are going to have to regain their power stroke. PECOTA may have nice expectations for the Mets, but it’s going to take more than rosy projections for New York to get back on track after an impressive showing in the NLCS. Yes, the young arms haven’t dominated like they did against the Cubs, but credit needs to be given to the Royals offense, and blame needs to be placed on the Mets bats, to help explain Kansas City’s 2-0 lead.

Game Three will air at 8:00 p.m. ET on FOX.

You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
swarmee
10/30
Claw...Hammer...Thor...ICWYDT
mattstupp
10/30
Curious- are team BABIPs available for this World Series so far? Royals deserve credit for putting the ball in play, but it seems that their rallies, especially in Game 2, was predicated on batted balls missing gloves. The Royals struck out three times in Game 2; the Mets struck out four times. I wonder why the narrative is more about "contact hitting is so valuable" vs. the Royals making hard contact/Mets making weak contact.
sahadev22
10/30
That was kind of my point. Sure, the Royals contact ability is special, but they haven't singled their way to this point. They've been slugging (read as: hard contact) in October and the Mets had been as well. Outside of their singles-led rally in Game Two, the Royals have continued to slug in the World Series while the Mets bats largely have gone silent.
magua11
10/31
in the series with the Jays, when Price had his first start, the Royals won on a series of [mostly] weakly hit seeing eye singles. They have been the beneficiaries of a number of 'cheap' hits throughout their playoff run. Not to say that they aren't successful...it's just that their success with squib hits WILL end, and then their domination will end. No one could convince me that the Royals are intending to hit the ball into the undefended area..so in my mind it is a cluster of 'lucky' events for the Royals, and misfortune for the competition.
gpurcell
10/30
Has PECOTA had the Royals at over 50 percent for any game this postseason?
huztlers
10/30
31% chance is pretty absurd for any team in the World Series
bigbob50
10/30
Better question is has PECOTA been right on anything having to do with the Royals this season