Blue is the color in baseball this postseason. The final four teams remaining all have blue as their primary team color. The Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays fell by the wayside, leaving two survivors.
The New York Mets will represent the National League against the American League's Kansas City Royals in what could be an epic World Series.
Here's the schedule for the entire series, per MLB.com
- Game 1: at Kansas City, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 8 p.m. ET on FOX
- Game 2: at Kansas City, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 8 p.m. ET on FOX
- Game 3: at New York, Friday, Oct. 30, 8 p.m. ET on FOX
- Game 4: at New York, Saturday, Oct. 31, 8 p.m. ET on FOX
- Game 5 (if necessary): at New York, Sunday, Nov. 1, 8 p.m. ET on FOX
- Game 6 (if necessary): at Kansas City, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 8 p.m. ET on FOX
- Game 7 (if necessary): at Kansas City, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 8 p.m. ET on FOX
Players to Watch
Pitching has been the Mets' most high-profile quality this postseason. Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard have been dominant. Even with their excellent play, a blazing hot position player is the man to watch.
It's almost impossible to imagine someone being hotter than Daniel Murphy. The New York Mets' 30-year-old second baseman has been an exemplary player and leader throughout the postseason. He's homered in six straight games and seven times in the postseason overall.
Murphy is hitting .421, and he's driven in 11 runs in nine playoff games. Per Peter Botte of New York Daily News, Murphy was asked by reporters, what planet he's from. Murphy said: “Earth ... planet Earth ... Jacksonville, Florida. You guys get to use all the adjectives, that’s above my pay grade.”
It'll be tough for Murphy to maintain the pace he's set for himself, but there's no question the Mets organization and its fans hope it lasts another series.
Many times, an effective leadoff man wreaks havoc with his legs and on-base percentage, drawing walks on a consistent basis. American League Championship Series MVP Alcides Escobar hasn't drawn a walk or stolen a base yet in the postseason.
He's instead done his work with the bat.
His batting average in the postseason is .386, and his on-base percentage is still .408 despite not receiving a walk. Escobar has only been in two postseasons in his career, but he has created a habit of playing big when it matters most.
In 26 postseason games, Escobar is hitting .330 with a .348 on-base percentage. Royals manager Ned Yost knows the 28-year-old Venezuelan can be inconsistent during the regular season, but the lifetime .262 hitter flips the proverbial switch in the postseason.
Per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com), Yost said:
"He's such a talented player. But with the grind of a 162-game season, there are little periods where his focus will tend to waver a little bit. But during the playoffs, he just locks in. And when he's focused, he's as good as any player in the league."
Leading up to the ALCS, Escobar has proven his manager correct.
There was a time when David Wright would've been in the section just above this one. Wright was one of the game's top hitters in the mid-2000s, but injuries have threatened his career and made him a decreased version of who he was before.
Against the Cubs, he scored five runs in four games, as he was routinely on base for Murphy's heroics. Wright is hitting just .167 in the postseason, but he must continue to be willing to take walks so that he can give Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes opportunities to drive in runs.
Wright must also continue to play high-level defense at third base. A leaping catch in Game 4 against the Cubs helped stuff a potential Chicago rally.
Wright's role may not be the same one he was expected to play in 2006—when he struggled to a .216 batting average in the playoffs—but the Mets still need him to do his part for this team.
There was quite a competition for Ben Zobrist's services earlier this season, per CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. The Royals won the derby as they completed a deal with the Oakland Athletics for the 34-year-old veteran. Zobrist has paid major dividends, especially in the postseason.
He is hitting .326 with 10 runs scored, and he has driven in six runs in the playoffs. His production has only augmented the work from Escobar.
The Royals' lineup doesn't have big boppers with 30 home runs. This group is a sum of its parts, and Zobrist's role as a No. 2 hitter has fit in perfectly. He must continue to usher RBI opportunities to Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Kendrys Morales if the lineup is to continue functioning like a well-oiled machine.
If a team is looking to string together huge innings against the Mets' stellar pitching staff, it won't find success. The top three starters are too good for teams to expect to tally multiple hits against them in an inning.
The Royals have a lineup that is capable of playing small ball and even hitting the occasional, timely long ball. That's the best profile to get to the Mets' young stud pitchers.
Top to bottom, the Royals' staff can't match the Mets' young and nasty group. However, the experience and chemistry of the Royals' staff—and team as a whole—will prove to be too much.
The Royals will capture the World Series title that eluded them last season in an entertaining series that ends in six games.