The Mets got back in the series with a 9-3 drubbing of Kansas City last night. A win tonight would even the series and make it a best-of-three, but the Royals offense has been a horror movie villain that sits back up after you shoot it in the chest all postseason, and it is Halloween night.

Kansas City Royals (Chris Young) at New York Mets (Steven Matz), 8:00 PM EST

PECOTA odds of winning: 36% Royals, 64% Mets

Projected Starting Lineups

Royals v. Matz (L)

Mets vs. C. Young (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

Chris Young (R) P

Steven Matz (R) P


Juan Uribe made his first postseason appearance, and first appearance period since September 25th, since last night. He had been dealing with a chest injury, but looked good at the plate and running the bases, which is good since he may be the Mets backup shortstop. Cespedes is still dealing with the shoulder issue that got him removed from Game 4 of the NLCS, but expect him to be in the lineup after another 18 holes of golf this afternoon.

The Mets used their usual seventh, eighth, and ninth inning arms with a six-run lead last night, but expect Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard, and Jeurys Familia to be available, Familia for multiple innings if needed. Matz has had issues with efficiency in his first two playoff starts, so Bartolo Colon may be the first Mets pitcher up in the pen. He threw 2+ in Game 1, but is on the same rest at this point as the Royals starter.

The meat of the Royals bullpen is also well rested. Johnny Cueto's complete game in Game 2 certainly helped, and Wade Davis hasn't pitched since his one inning in Game 1. Like Familia, he should be available for multiple innings as the Royals try to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. Madson and Herrera both pitched in Game 3, but neither threw a ton of pitches. One question might be the availability of Kris Medlen, who pitched a mop-up ninth. You would have thought he would be in line to back up Chris Young today if things went south for the tall righty, but Medlen hasn't pitched on back-to-back days all season.


Noah Syndergaard said he would throw his fastball in Game 3, and he went out and did just that. Averaging 98 with the pitch and touching 102, Syndergaard got eight swings-and-misses with the ol' number one. Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom combined for just two whiffs total on the fastball in Games 1 and 2. So you can in fact beat the Royals lineup with fastballs, it just helps to have an 80-grade one in your hip pocket. Steven Matz does not have an 80 fastball. It does sit 94-95 from the left side, but that is more in October Matt Harvey range. He also throws the fastball more than any other Mets starter. Matz threw the fastball 68 percent of the time in his major league outings this year, while Harvey, deGrom, and Syndergaard all run closer to 60.

So how will Matz approach the Royals lineup? One subplot to watch might be the slider. Both Syndergaard and Matz have fooled around with the 'Warthen slider' in 2015, but neither used it a ton in games. However, last night Syndergaard threw it 16 percent of the time, after using it only three percent of the time during the regular season. He was able to throw it for strikes and get swings-and-misses against both right-handed and left-handed hitters, and there likely isn't a ton of advanced scouting on the pitch. Matz has thrown it even less in games than Syndergaard, so we will have to wait and see if he is as comfortable going to it repeatedly in a playoff game. Matz also may not need a second breaking ball look. Syndergaard struggled with his change-up against the Royals lefty-leaning lineup, Matz will be able to sequence just fastball/curve against them if he wants.

Of course, none of this matters if Matz struggles with his control and his command like he did in his first two playoff starts. He hasn't gotten past the fifth inning in either and has struggled to get whiffs with anything other than his changeup. This seems like a good matchup for Lorenzo Cain and Alex Rios, and how Matz approaches the big right-handed bats in the Royals lineup may be the key to this game. The Mets’ strategy for the Royals hasn't really changed, win the starting pitching matchup, and keep the Royals three-headed relief monster from getting the ball with a lead. They've only been able to do it once so far in the series, and this game may feature their smallest starting pitching advantage.

That is because Chris Young carved up the Mets lineup in Game 1, throwing his fastball and slider exclusively. That is the kind of approach you might expect from a starter pressed into emergency relief service, throw your two best pitches as much as possible. Young carries that philosophy into his starts nowadays as well though, barely throwing his curve or change in 2015. He was also regularly touching 90 in his relief outing, but that is less likely to show up in his starts. The book on Young hasn't changed much. He will throw two pitches from a towering angle, and dare you to hit it in the air as far as you can. He usually wins that bet, and the Royals defense gives him a leg up on anything that gets out of the infield. However, the Mets recast themselves as a home-run-hitting team at the deadline, and Citi Field has played more as a hitter's park than it has in past seasons. The usual mantra applies to Game 4 as well, "ball go far, team go far."

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